By Shaun Hurrell, Thu, 28/04/2016 - 12:38
Stresemann’s Bristlefront Merulaxis stresemanni: a long-tailed bird with distinctive forehead bristles, a rufous rump, a musical whistle song, seen perhaps eating frogs and insects, and with a tennis-ball-sized tunnel for its nest. Spotted a handful of times since its rediscovery in Brazil’s Atlantic forest in 1995, that’s about all we know of this unique bird. Apart from one scary fact: there are fewer than fifteen individual birds left of the entire species.
Some species cling to existence on mere scraps of remaining habitat until… they’re gone. And once they’re gone, there is no turning back. But while those few individuals resist we have a chance to save them. A chance we are not going to miss.
That is why, today, BirdLife International embarks on an ambitious new global initiative to prevent the extinction of endangered species including Stresemann’s Bristlefront, as part of the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE).
The multi-million dollar initiative teams-up coordinators BirdLife, the American Bird Conservancy, the Global Environment Facility, and the United Nations Environment Program with the governments of Brazil, Chile, and Madagascar – where projects to restore and protect AZE species’ habitat with community support will first be demonstrated.
AZE is a global initiative working to prevent species extinctions by identifying and safeguarding the places where Endangered or Critically Endangered species are restricted to single remaining, irreplaceable sites.
“Protecting the last remaining habitats for Critically Endangered species is a vital strategy for preventing extinctions,” said Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with whom the initiative will work closely.
BirdLife is well-versed on Preventing Extinctions – to not save the rarest of the rare would be unthinkable. Saving these tiny habitats is saving entire species.
Stresemann’s Bristlefront habitat is a remnant strip of humid forest in a valley at the border of Bahia and Minas Gerais states, Brazil. Every day the sound of chainsaws firing up, the crackle of forest fires, and the smell of cow dung are getting ever closer. Rapid deforestation for logging, plantations and cattle ranching have devastated the state’s forest, which is a unique habitat-type (South American Atlantic forest) high in endemic species and of which only 10% of its original South American extent remains in Brazil. The ten individual birds are clinging to existence, stranded in an ‘island’ of forest.
With fewer than fifteen birds left – is it possible to save them?