Rare golden lion tamarins get their own BRIDGE over Brazilian highway

Monkeys get help dealing with the concrete jungle: Rare golden lion tamarins get their own BRIDGE over busy Brazilian highway

  • Conservationists in Rio de Janeiro were becoming concerned by a recent drop in population numbers of the threatened golden lion tamarin 
  • The experts feared that the golden lion tamarins had become isolated in a small area due to a highway
  • But it is now hoped the bridge, which is covered with trees, will help the monkeys access more forested areas

A group of monkeys are now able to safely cross a busy highway in Brazil and access more forests after conservationists built a bridge for them.

Conservationists in Rio de Janeiro were becoming concerned by a recent drop in population numbers of the threatened golden lion tamarin.

The Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro state is the only place in the world where the species still exists in the wild.

There were fears that the golden lion tamarins had become isolated in a small area due to a highway, but it is now hoped that the bridge over the highway, which is covered with trees and plants, will help the monkeys access more forested areas.

A group of monkeys are now able to safely cross a busy highway in Brazil and access more forests after conservationists built a bridge for them

Conservationists in Rio de Janeiro were becoming concerned by a recent drop in population numbers of the threatened golden lion tamarin. Pictured:  A young golden lion tamarin in the Atlantic Forest region on December 2

The bridge, built last year, has been planted with trees, shrubs and plants in the hope of making a natural corridor attractive to the primates. The vegetation is still young and will take time to grow to a size usable for the monkeys

‘Scientists have shown that the population living there would be completely isolated from the other side of the road and that would create a real problem in terms of conservation,’ said Luis Paulo Marques Ferraz, executive director of the metapopulation project that works to protect the numbers of golden lion tamarins.

‘Genetically that population would be isolated and that is really bad. We need a large forest protected and connected,’ he said. 

Conservation efforts over the past few decades managed to increase the number of golden lion tamarins, bringing the species back from the brink of extinction. 

But an outbreak of yellow fever in 2018 wiped out 32 per cent of the population. Today there are an estimated 2,500 golden lion tamarins in the wild. 

Conservation efforts over the past few decades managed to increase the number of golden lion tamarins, bringing the species back from the brink of extinction. Pictured: Biologist Andreia Martins observes a Golden Lion Tamarin in the Atlantic Forest region of Silva Jardim in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, on December 2

An interstate highway is seen from an ecological bridge that serves as a corridor for the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin

The bridge, built last year, has been planted with trees, shrubs and plants in the hope of making a natural corridor attractive to the primates. The vegetation is still young and will take time to grow to a size usable for the monkeys.  

Ferraz said that a population of 2,000 golden lion tamarins should have at least 25,000 hectares of forest. But the forest is fractured, cut up by pastures and roads and towns. 

The golden lion tamarin has lost about 95 per cent of its original habitat in Brazil, conservation groups estimate.

‘That’s why this bridge here was so strategic and important for the conservation program,’ Ferraz said. 

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