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February 1999 Report
February 2002 Report


by Andrew Whittaker
Birding Brazil Tours

March 1, 2000

Just having returned from Alagoas state NE Brazil I am sorry to have to pass onto you the continued SORRY STATE of the MURICI Reserve. This area of Alagoas used to hold much Atlantic rainforest. Now the sea of sugar cane has eradicated almost all, with probably 95% of the forest already gone! The small remaining woodlots are being pushed farther back by deforestation for cattle grazing and timber extraction and expanding human pressures.

The MURICI Reserve is one of the most IMPORTANT reserves in SOUTH AMERICA with its unique pocket of isolated Atlantic rainforest in the hilly region of northeastern Brazil. The reserve is full of endemic and poorly-known birds and other fauna. Most critical is that the woodlot holds two threatened Brazilian endemics known ONLY from this SITE:

Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (Phylidor novaesi)
Alagoas Antwren (Myrmotherula snowi)

Among many other endangered and threatened species are the recently-described

Alagoas Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes ceciliae)
Orange-bellied Antwren (Terenura sicki)
* NOTE- Both known from only a handful of sites in Alagoas state.

7 other threatened birds include:

Golden-tailed Parrotlet
Pinto's Spinetail
Scalloped Antbird
Black-headed Berryeater
Buff-throated Purpletuft
White-winged Cotinga
Forbes's Blackbird
Seven-colored Tanager
Yellow-faced Siskin

Murici also is home to several threatened sub-species only known from Alagoas, some of which most surely deserve full species status in the near future!

NOTE* The TRUE taxonomic status of White-collared Kite (Leptodon forbesi), which is known recently only from this woodlot is in URGENT need of a detailed revision if it deserves full species status if its not to late, as it could ALREADY be EXTINCT. As far as I know there are no confirmed records this decade.

The fate of the ALAGOAS CURRASSOW (Mitu mitu), which is now found only in small numbers in captivity (11 in 1984; 44 in December 1999), could possibly have been avoided if its taxonomic status from Razor-billed Curassow (Mitu tuberosa) had been known earlier, granting its well-deserved full species status!

I now have to inform all of the following TRAGIC news in HOPE that NEOORNER'S can pass this shocking news onto as many CONSERVATION organizations, journals etc as possible!

MURICI RESERVE - on paper only.

1- Illegal logging (three months in the reserve) using tractors/bulldozers which have made roads into the heart of the reserve. Chain saws used to cut out big trees and logs extracted.

2 - Fence lines on borders of reserve moved into reserve to pinch more land by greedy local landowner(s), which now crosses the reserve entrance road where it was blocked allowing free access to reserve.

3 - Anti-logging gate missing (used to have chain + padlock, both gone)

4 - IBAMA guard has told me he has not received a wage in months, he is even having to resort to support his growing family to cutting down forest and carrying out slash and burn to plant manioc etc for his family.

5 - Burning around in pasture adjacent to the reserve has caused fire to enter the forest reserve.

6 - No hunting heard this time but IBAMA guard informs still goes on regularly and he can do nothing to stop it.

7 - Cutting down of forest on reserve borders + probably into reserve on more hidden boundaries (guard informs).

8 - Secondary growth around reserve all taken down this year. This was acting as a buffer zone.

9 - Guard alone has no local power to stop anything. He has no gun no uniform and no transport, even seen last year eating locally caught animals probably from within the reserve he defends.

10 - Reserve size I was told down to around 2500 hectares only now!

11 - Fence posts for surrounding land being taken out of the reserve in LARGE quantities by felling trees!

12 - Local people trapping the endangered Yellow-faced Siskin (Carduelis yarrelli) several in cages - none seen in reserve this year!

Only good news was that we did record both the endemic Phylidor + Myrmotherula again this year with two Novaes Foliage-gleaner observed.

I do hope that in some way this news getting out can help PROTECT for future generations this spectacular reserve along with its unique fauna and flora!

Any ideas of help would be most welcome please contact me direct.

Best regards


Birding Brazil Tours
Andrew Whittaker
Conj Acariquara
Rua Samaumas 214
Amazonas 69085-053
Tel/fax ++ 55 92 644-3792

[JWW comment: Where are the rich Beltway environmental groups when we need them? They had plenty of money to jet down to Rio for weeks of dinners and meetings several years ago, but when it comes to funding urgently needed conservation efforts in Brazil they are nowhere to be found. The same goes for the World Bank [$10 Million to IBAMA up in smoke] and the IDB [Inter-American Devastation Bank], some of whose junketing employees I encountered during their obligatory "day in the jungle" in Brazil in 1998. Andy submitted a report posted here in February 1999 about the ongoing destruction of the Murici Reserve. Now the deforestation process has accelerated, reaching the point where the IBAMA guard is cutting forest to plant manioc and eating game hunted in the reserve. The amount of the National Audubon Society's yearly utility bills or the annual bribes paid by the World Bank to the NAS and other groveling Beltway environmental groups might be sufficient to preserve what little remains at Murici.]

Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall