The wild population of the golden lion tamarin, which lives only in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, fell to just 200 in the 1970s. Conservationists have helped the species rebound, but the monkeys are still at risk as development encroaches on their remaining habitat.
Credit Mehgan Murphy / Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution
Power lines, roads and agricultural development in Rio de Janeiro state have isolated golden lion tamarins in forest fragments, leaving them vulnerable to inbreeding and other threats.
The tiny, copper-hued golden lion tamarin is so beloved in Brazil that its image graces the country's 20-real bank note. But this lion-maned monkey is in peril.
There's only one place on earth where the golden lion tamarin lives in the wild: in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, or Mata Atlantica, just north of Rio de Janeiro. Deforestation in the region has reduced the monkey's habitat, once a massive ecosystem stretching for a half-million square miles, to just 2 percent of its original size.
"It's a jungle if you're an eagle right now on the Chesapeake Bay," says Bryan Watts, a conservation biologist at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. "You have to watch your back."
Americans have long imagined their national symbol as a solitary, noble bird soaring on majestic wings. The birds are indeed gorgeous and still soar, but the notion that they are loners is outdated, Watts and other conservationists are finding.
The roseate spoonbill -- often mistaken by confused tourists for the non-native flamingo -- is one of Florida's great iconic species. Dubbed "one of the most breathtaking of the world's weirdest birds" by naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, the gangly creatures are an increasingly rare sight in South Florida.
According to a feature in the May-June issue of Audubon Magazine, spoonbills have been vacating South Florida in droves, heading north to more hospitable (read: often less developed) lands.
Proposed changes at Everglades National Park have put anglers at odds with environmental groups. The park's draft general management plan, which includes several variations (or "alternatives"), is currently up for public comment. This Sunday is the deadline to weigh in on proposed measures, which include prohibiting traditional boating in about one-third of Florida Bay.