Animal Info - Black-faced Lion Tamarin

(Other Names: Mico Leão Caiçara, Mico Leão da Cara Preta)

Leontopithecus caissara (L. rosalia c.)

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Black-faced Lion Tamarin #1 (46 Kb JPEG); Black-faced Lion Tamarin #2 (66 Kb GIF) (Wild Ones/Wildl. Trust)

The black-faced lion tamarin has a golden body and a black face.  Its head and body length is approximately 30 cm (12"), and it weighs approximately 600 g (21 oz). This lion tamarin prefers primary lowland coastal forest (restinga), where it eats fruit, insects, nectar and plant exudates. It is arboreal and diurnal. Black-faced lion tamarins occur in groups of 2 - 11, with an average of 5 members per group.

The black-faced lion tamarin was first documented by Western science in 1990 on the island of Superagui, Brazil. By 1995, surveys revealed that it occurred on Superagui and adjacent parts of the mainland in the states of Parana and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Its available habitat totals approximately 17,300 hectares (68 sq mi). The black-faced lion tamarin is threatened by the development of tourism, the harvesting of palm hearts, and further deforestation to provide more land for cattle ranching.


Tidbits

*** The black-faced lion tamarin is one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** The Jesuit Antonio Pigafetta, who documented Magellan's voyage around the world, referred to lion tamarins as "beautiful, simian-like cats similar to small lions." (Macdonald 2001)

*** The black-faced lion tamarin was given the scientific name Leontopithecus caissara after the fishermen who live on the island where it was first documented.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Black-faced Lion Tamarin Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Brazil (IUCN 2004).

Taxonomy:

In the past, the black-faced lion tamarin was considered to be a subspecies of the golden-rumped lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus), which was itself once considered to be a subspecies of the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia).

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The black-faced lion tamarin was first documented by Western science in 1990 on the island of Superagui, Brazil. By 1995, surveys revealed that it occurred on Superagui and adjacent parts of the mainland in the states of Parana and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Its available habitat totals approximately 17,300 hectares (68 sq mi) (Rylands et al. 1997).

Distribution Map #1 (7 Kb GIF) 
Distribution Map #2 (84 Kb GIF) (Inst. Pes. Ecol.)
Distribution Map #3 (275 Kb JPEG) (Inst. Ciên. Biol.)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The black-faced lion tamarin is threatened by the development of tourism, the harvesting of palm hearts, and further deforestation to provide more land for cattle ranching (Macdonald 2001).


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The black-faced lion tamarin's head and body length is approximately 30 cm (12"), and its tail is about the same length. It weighs approximately 0.60 kg (1.3 lb).  (IPE 2004).

Habitat:

Lion tamarins have always been restricted to low-altitude forests, usually below 300 m (1000'). Although lion tamarins do utilize forest in early stages of succession, they depend on tall, mature forest for their sleeping holes, which are dug out by woodpeckers, and for sufficient animal prey foraging sites, especially bromeliad epiphytes and leaf litter piles in vines and palm-tree crowns. (Macdonald 2001)

The black-faced lion tamarin prefers primary lowland coastal forest (restinga), with many epiphytic bromeliads and palms. (Rowe 1996)

The black-faced lion tamarin is found in the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) and in the Brazilian Atlantic Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Birth Rate:

Twins are usually born (IPE 2004). 

Diet:

The black-faced lion tamarin eats fruit, insects, nectar and plant exudates (Emmons & Feer 1997).

Behavior:

It is arboreal and diurnal.

Social Organization:

The black-faced lion tamarin occurs in groups comprising 2 - 11 members, with an average of 5 members per group (Emmons & Feer 1997, IPE 2004).

Density and Range:

Lion tamarins generally occur in low densities of 0.5 - 1 group /sq km (1 - 3 groups/sq mi) (Macdonald 2001).

Black-faced lion tamarin groups occupy a home range of approximately 25 hectares (63 acres) (IPE 2004).


References

Arkive, Ballou & van Roode 2002, Cons. Intl., Emmons & Feer 1997, Inst. Ciên. Biol., Inst. Pes. Ecol., IPE 2004, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kleiman & Mallinson 1998, Macdonald 2001, Natl. Zoo - Cons. Sci., Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1990e, Oryx 1995k, Rowe 1996, Rylands et al. 1997, Seal et al. 1990, Wild Ones/Wildl. Trust


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Last modified: September 10, 2006;

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