A Spark of Gold in the Rainforest Canopy
September 27, 2016
The golden lion tamarin, also known as the golden marmoset, graces the cover of our 74% Atlantic Forest dark chocolate bar from our Rainforest Collection with it’s bright golden fur and small, delicate face. And by having the small monkey appear on our packaging you can assume that, like the other animals on our packaging, this fun fact monkey is in danger of extinction. But what you can’t easily infer is just how endangered they are. These golden orange mammalians live solely in the Atlantic coastal rainforest region of Brazil, but due to the deforestation and destruction of the Brazilian Rainforest 95-98% of this rainforest is gone, which coupled with illegal trapping, caused the population of tamarins living in the wild to be reduced almost to zero in the 1990’s.
But these golden tamarins are tenacious, and with the help of organizations such as The Golden Lion Tamarin Association (Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado, AMLD), the golden lion tamarin has been successfully reintroduced back into what’s left of Brazil’s Atlantic coastal rainforests. This has led to many breakthroughs in increasing the wild tamarin population changed the tamarins’ classification on the IUCN scale from critically endangered to just endangered. In fact, these tamarins have taken so well to being reintroduced that their population growth has exceeded predictions - instead of a supposed 1,100 tamarins in the wild, a census conducted by AMLD in 2014 shows that there are actually closer to 3,200 tamarins. Three times as many than expected!
Yes, it seems that the golden lion tamarin is making a comeback due to its reintroduction into the wild, and is notably the only endangered primate to do so. This success might be due to the way tamarins raise their young cooperatively. Peculiarly, tamarins in the wild give birth to twins at a rate of 78% and (in captivity) triplets make up 28% of births. Having more than one offspring is unusual at such a high rate for primates, which may be why all offspring is raised cooperatively among family members including fathers and siblings. Studies show that when siblings take care of their younger kin they mature into competent parents able to raise their own young without any infant mortality. On the other hand, sibling tamarins without any, shall we say “babysitting experience,” usually lose two or more offspring before they are able to raise one successfully. This style of nurturing may be one reason that the tamarins have been able to make such a comeback.
However, the golden lion tamarins’ struggle to survive is not over. While great progress has been made in repopulating the species, the Atlantic coastal rainforest that serves as their habitat is severely fragmented and cannot sustain a growing tamarin population. In order to continue to pull these beautiful golden primates back from the edge of extinction ALMD and other organizations are striving to reconnect the rainforests through means of local education, stopping urban construction, and reforestation. If this progress continues then there is strong hope for the tamarin’s survival in the wild.
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