Araripe Manakin, Ciro Albano

BIRD OF THE WEEK: 2/20/2015 SCIENTIFIC NAME: Antilophia bokermanni
POPULATION: About 800 adults
IUCN STATUS: Critically Endangered
TREND: Decreasing
HABITAT: Lower and middle levels of tall, humid forest, with an abundance of vines

The discovery of the striking red, white, and black Araripe Manakin in 1996 stunned bird enthusiasts all over the world. The bird's habitat is humid riverbank “gallery” forest watered by streams arising from springs at the base of the Araripe Plateau. These streams continue into arid caatinga (dry shrubland and thorn forest), which surrounds the riverbank forests.

The Araripe Manakin's Critically Endangered status, which has led to its listing as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species, has also focused attention on the importance of conserving its unique habitat, which determines not only this bird's continued survival but also the quality of life for thousands of people living in this largely impoverished region of northeastern Brazil. Both bird and habitat are threatened by the clearing of these forests for farming, cattle, and home-building.

In 2003, the first information about the Araripe Manakin's biology and threats to its survival were presented in a management plan aimed at local stakeholders. Just this year, the bird became the first species in Brazil to receive a National Conservation Action Plan — making it a widely recognized symbol for biodiversity, natural resources conservation, and the importance of environmental sustainability.

With ABC support, the Brazilian NGO Aquasis and the Araripe Manakin Conservation Project are maintaining an experimental tree nursery and beginning a long-term habitat restoration initiative with local partners — providing hope for the future of this rare bird.

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