Land acquisition Fazenda Santa Rita

With the purchase of the 202-hectare Fazenda Santa Rita, AMAP Brazil is acutely planning to secure an important hotspot for the golden-headed lion tamarins. Besides 35 hectares of pasture, Santa Rita also has 145 hectares of cabruca (cocoa forest). The purchase requires the equivalent of around 500,000 euros. To contractually secure the purchase, a deposit of 20 percent of the purchase price is required by the end of August 2020.

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The acquisition enables AMAP Brazil,…

…to reforest the former pasture areas of the Fazenda Santa Rita.

As in the course of the reforestation of the nearby association headquarters, the Fazenda Bom Pastor, where around 30,000 trees have already been planted for a wildlife corridor with the participation of volunteers, seedlings of native species (which, for example, are particularly well suited for sleeping and feeding trees for the golden-headed lion tamarins, as Dr. de Carvalho Oliveira has determined in his research) from the local seedling nursery Floresta Viva are to be obtained for Santa Rita as well.

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Dr. Leonardo de Carvalho Oliveira, Professor at Rio de Janeiro State University and leading expert in the field of the golden-headed lion tamarin, is responsible for the scientific supervision. In addition to the study of the monkeys, AMAP Brazil is planning to carry out a survey of amphibians and reptiles on Santa Rita, as the Fazenda is one of the last refuges for this fauna—to date, more than 50 reptile species have been recorded on Santa Rita, the amphibian diversity is estimated at about 70 species.

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…to include the cabrucas in the Demeter certification process to develop traditional cocoa cultivation in a sustainable-ecological manner in harmony with species conservation. On the occasion of the already started certification on Bom Pastor, AMAP has joined the local cabruca cooperative in Ilhéus as a member.

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In favor of the urgent protection of the Fazenda Santa Rita for primatology and research on amphibians and reptiles at the universities of Rio de Janeiro and Ilhéus, Dr. de Carvalho Oliveira and Dr. Solé Kienle, Professor at the University of Ilhéus, have spoken out in two expert reports:


The importance of Santa Rita farm for the golden-headed lion tamarin

Dr. Leonardo de Carvalho Oliveira

Adjunct Professor Faculdade de Formação de Professores—Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro;
Graduate Program of Ecology and Conservation Biology—Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz;
Scientific Director of Bicho do Mato Instituto de Pesquisa;
Executive Director of AMAP Brazil

Southern Bahia state is the cocoa production region of Brazil and the matrix that dominates the landscape is cabruca agroforest. Cabruca refers to cocoa plantations with native forest overstory. By the 1990’s, cabruca covered almost 40% of the Atlantic Forest in southern Bahia whereas only 33% of the forest cover comprised of native forests. Cabruca has been considered an important habitat for conservation of Atlantic Forest biodiversity in southern Bahia state for both plant and animal species. Thus, cabruca is the predominant habitat type throughout the eastern portion of the range of the golden-headed lion tamarin, Leontopithecus chrysomelas, one of four lion tamarin species endemic to the Atlantic forests of Brazil, all of which are endangered (IUCN 2020). In 2005, a population and habitat viability analysis (PHVA) was conducted for lion tamarins. Results suggested that only one population of lion tamarins is viable and capable of preserving sufficient genetic variability for a period of 100 years (the population of the Una Biological Reserve). However, assuming a metapopulation scenario in which forested areas are connected by matrix habitat, in this case cabruca, suitable for dispersal by lion tamarins, their conservation in the wild is relatively secure. Thus, the cabruca agroforest of Southern Bahia plays an important role in the long-term conservation of golden-headed lion tamarins. Nevertheless, cabruca and the biodiversity it contains are under threat in Brazil. A long-term economic crisis due to a decrease in the price of cocoa and the emergence of witches’ broom (Moniliophthora perniciosa), a fungal disease that has been devastating Bahia’s cocoa crops since 1989, is forcing landowners in southern Bahia to transform cabruca into other types of crops or increase the management of cabrucas (removing shade trees) to increase their revenue. Recently, a governmental decree of Bahia state allow farmer to decrease the number of shade trees per hectare, which will affect the importance of such habitat for lion tamarins, for instance reducing the foraging trees and sleeping sites. Given the rapid degradation of Atlantic Forest in Bahia, the endangered status of the golden-headed lion tamarin and the rapid changes in cabruca management, a better understanding of the relationship between agroforest management and key resources found in cabruca emerges as an important conservation objective. Over the past 11 years, we have been following the tamarins in Fazenda Santa Rita understanding how they use cabruca there.

Impressive results show that golden-headed lion tamarins in Santa Rita are:

1. Heavier and bigger than expected for the species
2. The smallest home range already reported for the species (which means plenty of food available),
3. Reproduction is higher in Santa Rita than in ANY other habitat, including the first reports of Triplets in a wild population
4. Highest density already reported for the species with 0,21 tamarins per hectare.

These aforementioned results allow us to conclude that the cabruca of Fazenda Santa Rita is ideal for golden-headed lion tamarins and have to stay as it is in order to keep not only this important population but also to let us use it as a model for other cabrucas on behalf of golden-headed lion tamarins. In the near future, our goal is to replicate (more groups) our study in Santa Rita farm to evaluate the group dynamics in such amazing agroecosystem, which seems to fulfill the GHLT’s requirements.


Why the Fazenda Santa Rita is particularly worth protecting from a herpetological perspective

Dr. Mirco Solé Kienle

Professor of Zoology, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz. Member of the Alexander von Humboldt Gesellschaft and stipendiary of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Category 1A

The Fazenda Santa Rita is located in the heart of the “Hiléia Baiana”, a part of the Atlantic coastal forest that still has many similarities with the Amazon. From a zoogeological point of view, we are here in the largest Pleistocene refuge of this biome. In other areas of the Atlantic coastal forest, it became periodically colder and drier during the last ice ages, but in this section of the rainforest in Bahia it remained warm and humid for hundreds of thousands of years. Therefore, this forest area contains such an amazing biodiversity. Beside species that are widely distributed in this biome, we also find so-called endemics: species that only occur in Southern Bahia, sometimes even only in the municipality of Ilhéus. On the areas of Santa Rita there are beside many ponds also a lot of smaller brooks that are ideal reproduction areas for frogs. The amphibian diversity of the fazenda is estimated at about 70 species, clearly more than on other fazendas or the campus of the State University of Santa Cruz, with 55 species. This is due to the fact that because of the proximity to the sea there are also some typical “Restinga” species. The “Restinga” is a vegetation that thrives near the coast on sandy soil and is much lighter than the rainforest. Species like Aparasphenodon bunoi und Itapotihyla langsdorffii inhabit this niche. For the bromeliad-frog genus Phyllodytes, the areas around Ilhéus are considered historical centers of distribution. Of the 15 species described to date, 8 can be found in the municipality of Ilhéus, 5 of which have already been recorded in the Santa Rita area: P. melanomystax, P. luteolus, P. maculosus and the two species P. praeceptor and P. megatympanum which were described only in recent years. Another species that will be described in a few months from the Conduru Park can also be found on the farm. Among microendemic species the following frogs can be highlighted: Sphaenorhynchus pauloalvini, Bokermannohyla capra, Aparasphenodon arapapa and Chiasmocleis crucis. Over 50 species of reptiles have also been recorded in the forests of the fazenda. Of note are the gecko Phyllopezus lutzae and the small leaf litter geckos of the genera Leposoma and Coleodactylus, of which there are possibly still undescribed species on the fazenda. For snakes, the extremely rare Oxyrhophus formosus and the bushmaster Lachesis muta have already been reported from the cocoa plantations on the farm.

The Fazenda Santa Rita represents one of the last refuges for this rich amphibian and reptile fauna and is particularly worth protecting from a scientific point of view.

You want to help AMAP Brazil to secure the Fazenda Santa Rita:

1) Donation: AMAP is a registered association (e. V.) in Germany and is entitled to accept donations and issue you with a donation receipt. Any amount is welcome and can be transferred to the account of AMAP e. V. in Marburg (IBAN DE19 5139 0000 0050 7124 00)—keyword “Projekt Santa Rita”.

2) Recommendation to possible “helpers”:

If you personally do not have the possibility to participate in the project, but you know someone in your professional or private environment who is interested in promoting the Santa Rita project, please forward the link to this page or immediately the synopsis on Santa Rita (available in German and English) to enable the realization of the farm acquisition.

For further questions you can contact us directly:

Achim Gresser
1. Chairman of the board AMAP Germany
+49 176 93175146


With your help, we can achieve a lot and help the nature and the people at the cocoa coast of Brazil!

Thank you!


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