* Irene's Country Corner * - Brasil - The Brazilian Fauna


Class Mammalia - Order Perissodactyla - Family Tapiridae
Tapirus terrestris
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Popular Name: Anta (Brazilian tapir)
Lower Risk/near threatened (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

The Anta - Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is one of four species in the tapir family. The Brazilian Tapir can attain body lengths of 1.80 to 2.50 m with a 5 to 10 cm long tail and 270 kg in weight.

One of its main features is a short proboscis, an extension of the nose and upper lip, which is used to pull and hold branches of trees while feeding. It has weak eyesight and relies largely on hearing and smell.

The Brazilian Tapir can be found near water in the Amazon Rainforest and River Basin in South America, west of the Andes. Its range stretches from Venezuela, Colombia, and Guianas, Argentina, and Paraguay, in the south, to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in the West. They can be found in the whole Brazilian territory with the exception of the east of the South-East region and the North-East.

They are mainly active after dark and spend the daytime resting in dense undergrowth. At night, this herbivore emerges to browse on plants growing in forest clearings and alongside streams and rivers. They are good swimmers and when in danger, they dive in the water. Tapirs are solitary animals, only coming together in the breeding season. A female tapir breeds once a year, the gestation period being 12-13 months. The species has a life span of approximately 25 to 30 years. In the wild, the main predators are crocodilians and large cats such as, the jaguar and puma which often attacks the tapir at night, when they leave the water and sleep on the riverband.

See photos of the Brazilian Tapir HERE. (ARKive Images of life on Earth)



The Gambá - Opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) can be found in many regions of America, such as Canada, United States, Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Guianas and in the Brazilian territory. It is a widespread and common species.

In Brazil, the distribution of the Didelphis is as follows:
- Didelphis aurita - The whole state of São Paulo, specially in the Atlantic Forest region and other nearby states. It can also be found in the North of Rio Grande do Sul and in the Amazonia;
- Didelphis albiventris - Central part of Brazil. It is also common in the state of São Paulo;
- Didelphis marsupialis - Amazonic Region;
- Didelphis paraguaiensis - found in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Mato Grosso.

Class Mammalia - Order Didelphimorphia - Family Didelphidae
Didelphis marsupialis
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Popular Name: Gambá (Opossum)

The animal has nocturne habits and hunts during the night. During the day it usually searches for spots with low luminosity to sleep. Being an omnivorous animal, it eats from roots and fruits to insects, crustaceans, amphibians, lizards and birds.

Although hunted or trapped locally for food, sport and as predators of poultry, the species does not appear to have been adversely affected by human settlement (Novak 1999). Commercial hunting for the fur trade does not appear to have much impact.



Class Mammalia - Order Cetacea - Family Iniidae (Was in the 1996-2002 IUCN Red Lists under the family Platanistidae)
Inia geoffrensis
Species Authority: Blainville, 1817
Popular Name: Boto cor-de-rosa (Amazon River Dolphin)
Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)

The Boto-cor-de-rosa - Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) is exclusively to the Amazon River Basin. Their color vary from dark gray to light gray, and pink in the inferior parts. They are animals of diurnal and nocturnal habits. They live in small groups or are solitary. They eat fish and can swallow crustaceans and turtles. They rarely jump out of the water. They are curious animals and approach swimmers without attacking them. They have visual deficiency. This fresh water mammal makes its home in deep portions of rivers near sandbars and other natural formations that cause a pool of deep water to form. During the flood season, the Amazon river dolphin will move into the main stream to enjoy the deeper than normal river flow.

Although there is no regular hunt for the species, they are sometimes killed and maimed deliberately by fishermen to protect their catch and gear, or in retaliation for perceived competition for fish resources. Most human-caused mortality is incidental. Several dams have already fragmented the Amazonian river dolphin population, and many more have been proposed (Best and da Silva 1989, IWC 2001). As mercury is often used to separate gold from soil and rock in mining operations along the Amazon (Pfeiffer et al. 1993), where mining for gold is pervasive if not rampant, contamination of the dolphins' food web is a further concern (Aula et al. 1995).

See photos and videos HERE. (ARKive Images of life on Earth)

In Brazil, there is a legend about the river dolphin. It is said that the boto becomes a handsome man who seduces the young ladies. According to an Amazonian legend, the boto appears transformed into a very handsome man during the night. But he is always wearing a hat, because his transformation is not complete since his breathing hole is still at the top of his head. Like a gentleman, he flirts, enchanting the young woman he sees. Because of the legend, young women are always alerted by their parents not to flirt with any man wearing a hat. It is said that the transformation of the boto occurs mostly during the month of June, when people celecbrate the birthdays of Saints Anthony, John and Peter. During these June celebrations (Festa Junina) if a man appears wearing a hat people ask him to take it off to make sure he iss not a boto.



Class Mammalia - Order Sirenia - Family Treichechidea
Trichechus manatus
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Popular Name: Peixe-boi marinho (American Manatee)
Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)

The Peixe-boi marinho - American Manatee (Trichechus manatus) can be found in many parts of the western world along the Atlantic Coasts. These places include the United States, Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Central America, South America (from Columbia to the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil). In Brazil, they can be found from the North-east to the state of Amapá.

There are two species of manatees in Brazil: the Peixe-boi marinho - American Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and the Peixe-boi amazônico - Amazonian Manatee (Trichechus inunguis) as seen below.



The Peixe-boi amazônico - Amazonian Manatee (Trichechus inunguis) can be found only in the Amazonian River Basin in Brazil and in the Orinoco River in Peru.

Unlike their cousins the American Manatees, who can live in either fresh or salt water, the Amazonian Manatees dwell solely in fresh water.

While the American manatee (Trichechus manatus) can measure up to 4 meters and weigh up to 800 quilos, the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis) is smaller, can reach up to 2,5 meters and weigh up to 300 quilos.

Due to the hunt of the species, the manatee is today the the most endangered aquatic mammal in Brazil.

See photos HERE. (ARKive Images of life on Earth)

Class Mammalia - Order Sirenia - Family Treichechidea
Trichechus inunguis
Species Authority: Natterer, 1883
Popular Name: Peixe-boi amazônico (Amazonian Manatee)
Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)





Class Aves - Order Psittaciformes - Family Psittacidae
Guaruba guarouba
Species Authority: J.F.Gmelin, 1788
Popular Name: Ararajuba (Golden Conure)
In Danger (BirdLife International 2000)

The Ararajuba - Golden Conure (Guaruba guarouba, synonym Aratinga guarouba) is a bird of the Psittacidae family, which includes macaws, parrots, parakeets and king-parakeets. The Golden Conure is considered to be the largest of all conures. It is 15 inches in length, with an average weight of around 290 grams. Its vivid colours such as yolk-yellow and bright green, recalling the colors of the Brazilian national flag, make it a national symbol, and also because Psittacidae birds such as the Ararajuba are specifically found in tropical environments.

This species is restricted to the Brazilian territory, between the northern states of Maranhão and west of Pará. This species has a very small population that is nomadic along rivers in the Amazon basin, and has suffered from habitat loss and extensive trapping for trade. It is consequently listed as Endangered.

They live in flocks of 4 to 10 individuals, in tall rain forest areas. During reproduction, they build their nests in the hollows of trees, and may have up to 9 young per nest. The family’s incubation period varies between 20 and 30 days. They eat various kinds of fruit-seeds. It is interesting to watch them eat: they use their beaks to climb up branches and hold their food with their claws.

© Irene. Not for download. Please, visit Graphics by Irene if you like this graphic.Like all other species of such family, the Ararajuba population has been continuously endangered, due to its attractive coloring, its easy taming and its disposition to imitate the human voice. Their feathers are also used for ornaments, which constitutes another risk for these birds.

© Irene. Not for download.
Picture taken by me at Rio's Zoo in 2006.



© Irene. Not for download.

Class Aves - Order Psittaciformes - Family Psittacidae
Ara ararauna
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Popular Name: Arara canindé (Blue and Yellow Macaw)
Lower Risk/least concern (BirdLife International 2000)
All pictures were taken by me at Rio's Zoo in 2006.

The Arara canindé - Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), is a member of the macaw group of parrots which breeds in the swampy forests of tropical South America from Panama south to Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. It is believed that it is probably now extinct on Trinidad.

They can reach 76-86 cm long and weigh 900 to 1300 g and are vivid in appearance with blue wings and tail, golden underparts and a green cap on the head. They can live up to 60 years in captivity.

There are 17 species of macaws distributed through tropical America. In Brazil, 5 of these species can be found in the Amazonian region, North-East of Brazil and in the Planalto Central region: Arara Canindé - Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), Arara-Azul-Grande - Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), Arara-Azul-de-Lear - Lear's Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), Arara-Vermelha-Grande - Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloroptera) and the Arara-Canga - Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao).


© Irene. Not for download.

© Irene. Not for download.



© Irene. Not for download. Please, visit Graphics by Irene if you like this graphic.The Arara azul - Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), is the largest psitacidade in the world. It reaches 93-100 cm in length and their average weight is 1,5 kilos. They have a large black and powerful bill which is deeply curved and pointed. Their plummage is entirely cobalt blue and the feathers contrast with the bare yellow eye ring and yellow skin next to the lower part of their bill. At a distance, they may look black, thus, the species is also known as "arara-preta" and "arara-una" (“una”, means black in Tupi language and "preta" is the Portuguese word for black).

The species is monogamous and couples remain together for their whole lives. The hyacinth macaw occurs in three distinct areas in South America, mainly in Brazil, where it is found in east Amazonia, east-central Brazil, and in the Pantanal region of southwest Brazil reaching into Bolivia and Paraguay.

Class Aves - Order Psittaciformes - Family Psitacidae
Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus
Species Authority: Latham, 1790
Popular Name: Arara azul (Hyacinth Macaw )
Endangered (EN - A1bcd+2bcd) - IUCN Red List 2002

This species qualifies as Endangered since the remaining small populations are probably undergoing very rapid reductions as a result of illegal trapping for the cage-bird trade and habitat loss. The hyacinth macaw is protected by law in Brazil and international trade is prohibited. The Hyacinth Macaw Project in the Brazilian State of Mato Grosso do Sul, has carried out important research by ringing individual birds and has created a number of artificial nests to compensate for the small percentage of sites available in the region.

See photos HERE. (Céu Azul de Copacabana Editora)

See photos and videos HERE. (ARKive Images of life on Earth)



Foto: Adriano A. Paiva

Class Aves - Order Psittaciformes - Family Psittacidae
Anodorhynchus leari
Popular Name: Arara-azul-de-Lear (Lear's Macaw)
Critically Endangered (CR - C2b) - IUCN Red List 2002

The Arara-azul-le-lear - Lear's Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), also known as the Indigo Macaw, is a Brazilian species with a highly restricted range. The bird is metallic blue tinged with green, and a yellow patch of skin by the bill. It weighs around 950 g (2 pounds) and is 75 cm (30 inches) long.

It was first described in 1858 by Napoleon's nephew, Lucien Bonaparte, from an illustration by the famous British poet, Edward Lear. The Lear's Macaw was named after Lear, who spent some time in Brazil painting the birds and writing poems on them.

This parrot remained elusive in the wild however, and was only accepted as a distinct species in 1978 when naturalist Helmut Sick finally located the wild population in the interior northeast of Brazil, in the Bahia state. Originally, the bird was thought to be some sort of hybrid derived from the very similar Hyacinth macaw. However, this idea was soon abandoned, as the Lear's Macaw has plumage that differs slightly from that of its close relatives. The macaw was actually first seen by humans in 1950 in a Brazilian zoo, but was not classified as its own species.

The head, neck and underparts of this parrot are greenish-blue, whilst the rest of the body has a violet/indigo appearance. Bare skin around the eyes and at the base of the lower bill is pale yellow.

The population of the Lear's Macaw, as of 1994, is 140 birds. It is currently listed as Critically Endangered because it has an extremely small population which breeds in one area and is continuing to decline, principally as a result of trapping for trade. Many organizations, such as BioBrazil and the World Parrot Trust, along with local ranchers and other independant organiations, are working to help conserve the species. Many ranchers are proud to have macaw nesting sites on their land, and are happy to adopt the birds to help expand their nesting areas.

See photos and videos HERE. (ARKive Images of life on Earth)

Foto: Luiz Marigo



Class Aves - Order Psittaciformes - Family Psittacidae
Ara chloroptera
Species authority: Gray, 1859
Popular Name: Arara vermelha grande (Red-and-green Macaw)

The Arara-vermelha - Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloroptera) is native from the forests from Panama to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The species is often mistaken for the Scarlet macaw (Ara macao) because of its predominantly red feathering. Their diet is based on seeds and fruits.

The breast of the Red-and-green Macaw is bright red, but the lower feathers of the wing are green. In addition, the Red-and-green Macaw has characteristic red lines around the eyes formed by rows of tiny feathers on the otherwise bare skin. This is the commonest of the large macaws and the largest of the "Ara" genus, widespread in the forests of Northern South America. However, in common with other macaws, in recent years there has been a marked decline in its numbers due to habitat loss and illegal capture.

Some macaw owners and experts call the Green-winged Macaw the "gentle giant", as it is larger in size than the Scarlet Macaw and Blue-and-yellow Macaw, but has a more docile nature which often makes it a more desirable pet than the other two popular species. It is second only in size to the Hyacinth Macaw.

Pictures taken by me at Rio's Zoo in 2006.



Foto: Xavier MARCHANT

Class Aves - Order Psittaciformes - Family Psittacidae
Ara macao
Species authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Popular Name: Ara-Canga (Scarlet Macaw)
Lower Risk/least concern (BirdLife International 2000)

The Ara-canga - Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a large, colourful parrot, sligthly smaller than the red-and-green macaw. It is native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics, from extreme eastern Mexico locally to Amazonian Peru and Brazil. It has been widely extirpated by habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade.

It is about 81 to 96 cm (32 to 36 inches) long, of which more than half is the pointed, graduated tail typical of macaws. Average weight is about a kilogram (2 to 2.5 pounds). The plumage is mostly scarlet, but the rump and tail-covert feathers are light blue, the greater upperwing coverts are yellow, the upper sides of the flight feathers of the wings are dark blue as are the ends of the tail feathers, and the undersides of the wing and tail flight feathers are dark red with metallic gold iridescence. There is bare white skin around the eye and from there to the bill.

Scarlet Macaws make loud, low-pitched, throaty squawks and screams. Wild Scarlet Macaws eat mostly fruits and seeds, including large, hard seeds. Like most parrots, the Scarlet Macaw lays 2 to 4 white eggs in a tree cavity. The young hatch after 24 to 25 days. They fledge about 105 days later and leave their parents as late as a year.

Scarlet Macaws are popular cage birds for those who can pay both the high price of the bird and the price of the big cage needed. They are considered sociable and affectionate.



© Irene. Not for download. Please, visit Graphics by Irene if you like this graphic.The Tucano-toco - Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is the largest of the toucans. It weighs around 540g. Its large bill is brightly colored orange and black and can get to about eight inches in length. They have strong feet and toes to support its weight. Two toes point forward and two point backward. Its wings are short and rounded and it has a long broad tail which helps him stay balanced in the trees. It's generally black with touches of white, scarlet on the chest and yellow.

The Toco Toucan likes to live in open areas, lowland rainforests and palm groves of South America. In Brazil, Toco Toucans can be found in the whole national terrytory except on the coast, from the Marajó Island and Chuí. This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 4,300,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'frequent' in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996).

© Irene. Not for download.

Class Aves - Order Piciformes - Family Ramphastidae
Ramphastos toco
Species Authority: Müller, 1776
Popular Name: Tucano-toco (Toco Toucan)
Lower Risk/least concern (BirdLife International 2000)
All pictures were taken by me at Rio's Zoo in 2006.

© Irene. Not for download. Please, visit Graphics by Irene if you like this graphic.The Toco Toucan will mate at different times, depending on where they live. They breed once a year and have two to four shiny white eggs in a clutch. The incubation period is sixteen days. Both parents care for their young, protecting and feeding them. Toucans usually live in pairs or groups called flocks. Their nests are in holes in trees. They communicate with each other using toad likes noises. They live up to 20 years.

They eat fruits, seeds, insects and spiders. The Toco Toucan is a predator. It hunts lizards and snakes and steals eggs and nestlings from smaller birds.

© Irene. Not for download.

© Irene. Not for download.



Class Aves - Order Galliformes - Family Cracidae
Crax fasciolata
Species Authority: Spix, 1825
Popular Name: Mutum (Bare-faced Curassow)
Lower Risk/least concern (BirdLife International 2000)

The Mutum - Bare-faced Curassow (Crax fasciolata) presents three subspecies: pinima of north-east Brazil, grayi in east Bolivia and the nominate in central and south-west Brazil, Paraguay and north Argentina. Although occupying a relatively large range and still being common in a few areas, many populations appear to be in decline, and it has disappeared from parts of its former range as a result of habitat destruction and hunting (del Hoyo 1994). The pinima is extinct around Belem, Pará (Novaes and Lima 1998), and may survive only in western Maranhão at Gurupi Biological Reserve and adjoining territories. The species was not found during extensive fieldwork around Paragominas, eastern Pará (A. Aleixo per. F. Olmos in litt. 2003). Although the nominate survives in Brazil from Minas Gerais, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul north to Pará and Mato Grosso, and can be locally common (as in the northern Pantanal and Serra dos Carajás), it is extinct, or nearly so, in São Paulo and Paraná (del Hoyo 1994, F. Olmos in litt. 2003).

Hunting pressure is an issue in Goiás, Tocantins and southern Pará, but the nominate is not considered to be particularly threatened in Brazil (F. Olmos in litt. 2003). The species listed as being of "High conservation priority" in the IUCN Cracid Action Plan, and more information on population size, trends and habitat loss are needed, especially for the core range in Brazil. However, this species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 3,700,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'frequent' in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

© Irene. Not for download.
Picture were taken by me at Rio's Zoo in 2006.



The Jaburu - Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) is a large bird, measuring about 1 meter high and 2,60 meters from one wing to another. Their average weight is 8 kilos. They have a large beak with a little inclination to the top. They have bare and black head and neck, and their neck have a red base. Their plumage is entirely white.

In Brazil, it is also known as tuiuiú, jaburu, tuim-de-papo-vermelho (in Mato Grosso), cauauá (in Amazonas) and jabiru in the south of Brazil. Their diet include insects, crabs, snails, frogs and fish. They live by the riverbank of large rivers and lages with sparse trees. In Brazil, they can be found in the whole national territory, escept in the south. The jabiru is considered symbol of the Pantanal region in Brazil.

Class Aves - Order Ciconiiformes - Family Ciconiidae
Jabiru mycteria
Species Authority: Lichtenstein, 1819
Popular Name: Jaburu (Jabiru)
Lower Risk/least concern (BirdLife International 2000)

This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 6,900,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'frequent' in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996).

It can be found also from Méxicoto Paraguay, Uruguay and north of Argentina, but the largest populations can be found in the Pantanal and oriental Chaco in Paraguay.





Class Reptilia - Order Crocodylia - Family Alligatoridae
Caiman latirostris
Species Authority: Daudin, 1802
Popular Name: Jacaré-do-papo-amarelo (Broad-nosed caiman)
In Danger (IUCN 1990)

The Jacaré do papo amarelo - Broad-nosed caiman (Caiman latirostris) is classified as a medium-sized crocodilian, seldom exceeding 10 feet in length. The snout is broader than in most other of their species. They are found in the sluggish streams and muddy bayous of south-east Brazil, reaching inland to Paraguay and Argentina.

They are more active during the night. In the wild, these carnivores eat a very generalized diet that includes snails, turtles, aquatic insects and their larvae, crustaceans, amphibians and small fish, including piranhas. At the Zoo, the caiman are fed small rodents.

Beginning in the middle of the century, commercial hunting took a significant toll on this species. The skin was prized because it is more suitable for tanning than the skin of other crocodilians.

Equally dangerous to the species is the on-going threat of habitat destruction. Deforestation and water pollution are major problems in most areas of their range.

According to information obtained at the Zoológico de São Paulo, with the prohibition of the hunting of the species in Brazil, the broad-nosed caiman is not considered in risk of extinction anymore although illegal hunting still persists in some areas. However, it is listed at the IUCN Red List as endangered.

© Irene. Not for download.
Picture taken by me at Rio's Zoo in 2005.



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This page was created on: January 5, 2007.
Last updated on: July 12, 2008.

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Resources: IBAMA, Fiocruz, MMA - Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Animals of Brazil, IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Wikipedia, Bristol Zoo,
The Monkey Sanctuary, IUCN/SSC Top 25 Most Endangered Primates, Parque Ecológico São Carlos, Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo and Fundação RIO ZOO.
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