Brazil is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, encompassing numerous ecological zones and natural wonders. Standouts include the Pantanal in the country’s southwest, the world’s largest freshwater wetland; the Amazon, the largest tropical forest and most pristine wild place on the planet; the Cerrado, a unique type of savanna; the semi-arid Caatingas where Spix’s macaws once abounded; the Pampas and the endangered Atlantic Forest, home to the largest New World monkey, the endemic muriqui.
These landscapes also shelter jaguars, caimans, anacondas, red-faced white uakari monkeys, pirarucus, giant otters, and giant anteaters. Brazil’s amazing biodiversity is in peril however, with large tracts of land being deforested or ecologically degraded, putting habitats and wildlife at risk. In the early 1970s, WCS began supporting wildlife research and conservation efforts in Brazil’s Amazon basin with several field expeditions. The Brazil program has expanded significantly since then with well stablished sites and ongoing projects in the Amazon, Pantanal and Atlantic Forest.
We are also continuing to explore little-known wild places, particularly in the Amazon, in order to set conservation priorities and make new contributions to science. Our exploration team—the country’s best experienced—recently discovered several new species, including two new primates.
One of the main contributions of WCS Brazil to the way conservation is carried out world wide was the idealization and subsequent creation of sustainable development reserves by its former director and late Jose Marcio Ayres. Today, WCS Brazil conserves wildlife and wild places by understanding critical issues, crafting science-based solutions, building partnerships, and taking conservation actions that benefit nature and humanity.