The Golden lion tamarin, a successful conservation program

Sometimes, species do come back from the brink of extinction. This is how the once nearly extinct Golden lion tamarin experienced a significant increase in population size.

x10. This is the factor by which the population of this monkey has multiplied in 50 years

The reason? A large and successful conservation program. The golden lion tamarin only lives in one place on Earth: the forests of the state of Rio de Janeiro. For centuries, this forest has been destroyed by human activity: logging, intensive agriculture, urban expansion…As a result, the golden lion tamarins witnessed the disappearance and fragmentation of their habitat.

Additionally, these monkeys, barely larger than squirrels, were captured as pets. By 1971, their population had dropped below 200 individuals. To save the species, ecologists, elected officials and citizens joined forces. A reintroduction program was implemented by the WWF and the Smithsonian Institution, with the collaboration of 140 zoos across the world. Many individuals raised in captivity were released into the wild. At the same time, teams worked to restore their habitat. As a result, areas were protected and trees were planted to create wildlife corridors to help reconnect populations. Some families of tamarins stranded in territories that had become too narrow were also moved to reserves.

After 50 years, this conservation program is considered a model of its kind: the population of golden lion tamarins is now estimated at around 3,000 individuals. But although this project has been a success, the region's forests are still under threat and today it is important to protect these ecosystems.


March 31, 2020 10:20 AM