Golden Lion Tamarin Reintroduction Program Essay

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Golden Lion Tamarin Reintroduction Program

Biodiversity may be our most precious gift on this planet. It is amazing to think about how much we know about our fellow creatures, and even more amazing to realize there is still so much to learn. From the smallest pollen to the biggest whale, every species has evolved to be a special part of its ecosystem. It is when we lose sight of the intrinsic value of all this life that we find ourselves destroying the delicate web and irreparably damaging ourselves as well. We cut down entire jungles into grazing land, irrigate vast deserts into golf courses, seal up marshes for business offices, dump toxic waste in the oceans. Since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, many animal and
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Less than 8,000 square miles of their original 400,000 square mile habitat remains intact and only 200 GLTs were surviving in the wild in 1983 when conservation biologist Dr. Jim Dietz began his studies in Brazil.

Preservation efforts have focused on the Poco das Antas ("pool of tapirs") Biological Reserve, run by Brazil’s Institute for the Environment and Renewable Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiete-- IBMA). The reserve is a 13,000 acre patch of forest, swamp and grassland that is the largest stretch of untouched forest within the tamarins’ range. Poco das Antas was home to as few as 75 individuals before efforts began in 1974; now there are 350 (www.endangered...). Also a new haven for the wild tamarin population is Fazenda Uniao, a 5,900 acre reserve run by Brazil’s formerly government-run railroad company, which has received 23 tamarins from depleted forest areas since 1991 (Cohn 28).

Zoos are by no means adequate replacement for the natural habitat of any species. But they often contribute knowledge, staff members, and money to conservation efforts. And, besides education, they provide controlled breeding ground to maintain a dwindling population at the highest possible genetic diversity until such time as they can be returned to the wild. In 1973, U.S. zoos housed only 70 GLTs; now there are 480 in 140 zoos around the world (Kierulff 101), many of whom are approaching reintroduction. Since 1985, 141 have
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