Red-billed curassow: flagship for the Atlantic Forest - Brazil

The red-billed curassow Crax blumenbachii is an endemic bird from Brazil's Atlantic Forest. It faces an increased risk of extinction and is classified as Endangered both by the IUCN Red List and IBAMA (Brazil's National Environment Agency). Due to illegal hunting, forest fragmentation and habitat loss, it is estimated that there are fewer than 250 birds left in the wild. These few individuals are distributed in six locations, all of which contain significant tracts of preserved Atlantic Forest.

The Atlantic Forest is a highly threatened habitat and is also home to the Alagoas curassow, last seen in 1989. The red-billed curassow is an excellent species to act as an ambassador for the conservation of the Atlantic Forest, mainly because of its ecological requirements. However the species is very poorly now and its Endangered conservation status is largely based on the declining extent of suitable habitat in the Atlantic Forest.

Project commenced: 2004
Partners: WPA, IBAMA, Crax Brasil, Crax International, Chester Zoo and SAVE Brasil

In 2004 a suite of organisations (see partners) joined forces to produce an Action Plan for the red-billed curassow. The objective of the action plan was to provide a realistic statement of what was needed to safeguard the species in the long-term. The plan had the overall goal of preventing the extinction of the red-billed curassow and to increase its numbers through management of its populations and habitats, with objectives that covered a 10-year period. The Action Plan described 32 important actions concentrated into five main objectives.

Main Objectives

  • public policy and legislation
  • species and habitat protection
  • research
  • management of captive populations
  • reintroduction projects


Most of the remaining habitat is now covered by public forests (135,000 hectares) and private reserves (42,000 hectares). The establishment of these safeguarded areas is important, but implementation of protection is vital. Therefore the creation of management plans for there areas includes increased surveillance to avoid illegal hunting.

Reintroduction projects are important in areas where the species has become locally extinct but the hunting is now controlled. In REGUA, a reintroduction project has been in operation since 2006 and includes post-monitoring of released birds. Habitat restoration has also been occurring, including a project to restore forest corridors between existing protected areas.

Community engagement is also very important and has occurred with local communities through education campaigns, environmental education programmes and visits by communities to adjacent reserves to learn about the curassow.

Since the Action Plan was published significant progress has been made in the protection and conservation of the red-billed curassow, and it is hoped that these actions will continue to be successful and promote the conservation of the red-billed curassow in the future. 

Back to Latin America