Protecting the Flea Toad and Other Unique Species of Serra Bonita
The Flea Toad (Brachycephalus pulex) is a new species to science that, when it was described in 2011, was the smallest amphibian (and the smallest tetrapod) in the world at between 8 and 8.4 mm long when fully grown. Although smaller frogs were since discovered in Papua New Guinea, the Flea Toad remains the smallest amphibian in the Neotropics and has pushed boundaries on what is thought to be possible.
The tiny toad is known only from the Serra Bonita in Bahia, Brazil in forests that have been largely preserved by the Serra Bonita Reserve Complex (SBR), which spans 4,400 acres. The SBR is an innovative conservation initiatives that protects one of the last remnants of moist submontane forest in the Atlantic Forest Central Biodiversity Corridor. Exceptionally high in endemic and rare species, the SBR represents the only protected area of this corridor to date. Wildlife surveys have found more than 80 amphibian species (58 endemic and seven more yet to be described), 458 tree species, 330 species of birds, and the world’s greatest diversity of moths with a staggering 5,000 species at one site. The area is home to four Critically Endangered and Endangered primate species, including the Yellow-breasted Capuchin (Cebus xanthosternos), Golden-headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas), and Northern Brown Howler Monkey (Alouatta guariba guariba).
Before Serra Bonita’s conservation efforts began in 2003, logging and hunting were commonplace. In addition, a fungal plague in the 1980s destroyed the region’s highly profitable cacao production system and the closing of plantations resulted in significant deforestation as lands were converted to farms. An opportunity has presented itself to acquire and protect 169 hectares of private land contiguous with the existing reserve.
The Serra Bonita Reserve Complex (SBR) is an innovative private conservation model comprising an assemblage of private properties totaling 5,400 acres and located in the Serra Bonita Mountain Range.
Instituto Uiraçu is a Brazilian non-profit organization, founded in 2001, dedicated to the protection of Atlantic Rainforest remnants and its biodiversity, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, through land acquisition, environmental education and scientific research. Instituto Uiraçu was created to manage and expand this area with the long-term goal of protecting the whole Serra Bonita Mountain Range. This is being achieved by a mixed-model approach facilitated by Instituto Uiraçu:
(1) Acquisition and ownership of areas by Instituto Uiraçu and conversion into official private reserves;
(2) Acquisition and ownership of areas by third parties with shared conservation goals (NGOs, companies and/or individuals); and
(3) Working with current landowners to promote the conversion of natural areas into private reserves.
Instituto Uiraçu’s long-term aim is to convert all additionally acquired areas into private reserves and incorporate them into the SBR complex. As new land is purchased and converted into private reserve status, more knowledge is gained about the fauna and flora of the SBR. Preliminary surveys have already identified various species and discovered numerous previously unknown to science.
Moist submontane forest
Flea Toad (Brachycephalus pulex)
Yellow-breasted Capuchin (Cebus xanthosternos)
Golden-headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas)
Northern Brown Howler Monkey (Alouatta guariba guariba)
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