Jonathan D. Ballou Receives Devra Kleiman Award

We are proud to announce that Jonathan D. Ballou received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)’s prestigious Devra Kleiman Scientific Advancement Award. This award, named for its first recipient Devra Kleiman, honors an individual’s long-term commitment to using science-based research and mentoring others. For more than three decades, Dr. Ballou’s pioneering work in conservation genetics has played an instrumental role in conservation of dozens of animal species, including golden lion tamarins. 

Dr. Ballou worked closely for many years with the award’s namesake, Devra Kleiman, on golden lion tamarin conservation at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, where he was the first to create an electronic studbook that is still in use today for this species. Dr. Ballou went on to co-develop the analytical software used by zoos worldwide for the genetic and demographic management of ex situ populations of both threatened and non-threatened species.  He is the co-author of “Introduction to Conservation Genetics,” the first, and very influential textbook in conservation genetics.

In June of this year, Dr. Ballou accepted our invitation to serve as “Special Advisor” on the Board of Directors of Save he Golden Lion Tamarin (SGLT).  In that capacity he works with us to keep golden lion tamarins safe from extinction.


GLTs Carry the Olympic Torch on its way to Rio's 2016 Olympic Games

On its way to the city of Rio to open the Olympic Games, the Olympic flame traveled through coastal Rio de Janeiro state, the region containing the last remaining fragments of Golden Lion Tamarin (GLT) habitat! On Tuesday, August 2 at 11:30AM Rio time, Andreia Martins, Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado biologist, carried the Olympic Torch in the town of Rio Bonito  Together with the Olympic Flame, she carried more than 30 years of experience with golden lion tamarins representing all of us who share in the work of assuring a future for the species in the wild!   

Andreia was selected as an Olympic Torch bearer because she is making a difference in her community.  Coordinator of the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado GLT Monitoring Team, Andreia has worked in these forests since she was 19 years old, bringing the species back from the brink of extinction by successfully reintroducing zoo-born GLTs to their native forest home.  With the support of partners in Brazil and around the world, the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado continues to watch over the GLTs and restore and protect enough forest for the species to continue to have a home in Rio de Janeiro into the future.

For more information, please see our press release.


Andreia Martins, Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado biologist, carries the Olympic Torch on August 2nd.

Photo Credit: Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado


SGLT Announces Two New Special Advisers to the Board

Save the Golden Lion Tamarin is pleased to announce the addition of two Special Advisers to SGLT's Board of Directors.   Dr. Andrew Baker and Dr. Jon Ballou have accepted invitations to serve as advisers for our continuing conservation of golden lion tamarins. Dr. Baker, who has served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Zoo for eight years, brings strong experience in organizational governance, strategic planning, financial management, and fund-raising to his advisory role. Dr. Ballou recently retired as Population Manager and Research Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's Conservation Biology Institute. He served as the species coordinator and international studbook keeper for GLTs. He continues to serve as an expert adviser for the planning of small population management. Thank you to both!  We are happy to have your valuable contributions.


A Success Story of Forest Restoration: Fazenda Dourada Corridor

The wind blew, the cloud moved...and look what great news appeared! The forest corridor in the Fazenda Dourada is complete!

An exciting success story for conservation of the Golden Lion Tamarins (GLTs) can now be seen in recently available photos from Google Earth. After more than 40 years of work to ensure a future for this beautiful species, a most urgent remaining task is to ensure existence of enough connected, protected habitat for GLTs and the many other species that live in Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forest. This forest is highly fragmented and efforts are underway to link key fragments by planting native species to form connections between these “islands” of forest.

In 2007 a unique partnership of the Brazilian federal government; local and international organizations; and Save the Golden Lion Tamarin individual donors joined together for AMLD (Golden Lion Tamarin Association), SGLT’s partner organization in Brazil, to purchase a 100-hectare (247-acre) parcel of privately owned cattle pasture in what is called the Fazenda Dourada. This area adjoins one of the largest remaining forest fragments, the União Biological Reserve that was created by ICMBio in 1998 to protect nearly 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of GLT habitat. A population of GLTs lives in the Reserve, but was isolated from other forested areas with GLTs by cattle pastures and other deforested areas. It was soon determined that, although challenging, an important effort needed to be made to create a forested corridor between the União Biological Reserve and the newly purchased Fazenda Dourado (see maps).

In 2009 AMLD began the effort of planting native seedlings on this property and conducting the necessary monitoring and caring for the needs of the emerging forest. This involved a lot of time, people, expertise, and dedication of support and financial resources from both private and governmental entities.

However, as work to create the corridor progressed, there was a certain level of frustration among those so dedicated to this effort.  The images available on Google Earth from October 2014 showed that the forest was in an advanced recovery process, but with many gaps yet to be filled. It was NOT the result they wanted to share widely, even though it was known that the tamarins, as well as pumas, had already left clear signs that they were using the corridor to travel.

Early 2016 brought another frustration: the new image of Google had a huge cloud right over the planted area. Again, it was apparently not yet time to reveal the result of so much work. But just this April, a brand new image was released. And the result is SPECTACULAR! This can be seen by the chronological sequence in the pictures.

This area is expected to provide an expansion of the Biological Reserve itself, but this will involve continued efforts to facilitate this.  AMLD intends to donate the Fazenda Dourado for incorporation into the Reserve by ICMBio, and the hope is that this bureaucratic process will come to fruition before long.

The story of the Fazenda Dourado is a good example of how complex and lengthy a process it is to restore areas of the Atlantic Forest to connect forest fragments. Forest fragmentation is still our biggest challenge to save the golden lion tamarin from extinction.  It has now been demonstrated that it was worth such a giant and continuing effort. 

Fragmented forest patches before the corridor.

2007, when the land was purchased.

2011, after four years of growth.

2015, after eight years of growth.

2016... with a cloud blocking the view!

2016, showing a functioning cooridor connecting two previously fragmented forest patches!


Disney Conservation Fund Supports Our GLT Conservation Strategy

We were very excited to announce our partnership with Disney Conservation Fund in April. Their 20th anniversary project, "Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time" focuses on several species and projects, and SGLT/AMLD is honored to be one of their recipients. We wanted to highlight a few ways that Disney's Reverse the Decline supports GLTs in the wild:

AMLD's Translocation TeamSupport from the Disney Reverse the Decline program helps AMLD implement its 10 year plan to keep GLTs from extinction in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.  AMLD’s plan has 10 strategies to counter threats to GLT survival.  The Disney grant supports several of these.  Disney support, for example, allows AMLD to carry out long-term monitoring of GLT population sizes and threats in four areas, and to move GLTs to meet genetic and demographic goals for each GLT population.  Science-based translocations to small and isolated GLT populations help maintain genetic diversity and reduce inbreeding until they can be connected to larger populations via planted forest corridors.



Local landowner on sustainable agroforestry plotDisney’s Reverse the Decline award helps AMLD implement its strategic plan in several ways.  For example, it enables AMLD to train local families in sustainable agroforestry practices.  Owners of some of these farms will plant agroforestry systems that serve as corridors connecting forest fragments.  Others will become involved in the commercial production of native tree seedlings needed for forest restoration in the region.  These activities contribute to restoration of GLT habitat as well as the reduction of two threats: forest fires and subdivision of rural properties.

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