Animal Info - Golden-headed Lion Tamarin

(Other Names: Gold and Black Lion Tamarin, Golden-headed Lion Marmoset, Golden-headed Tamarin, Mico Leo, Mico Leo de Cara Dourada, Sagui, Sauim-una, Tamarino Len de Cabeza Dorada)

Leontopithecus chrysomelas (L. rosalia c., Leontideus c.)

Status: 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, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Maximum Reproductive Age, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Mortality and Survival, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Golden-headed Lion Tamarin #1 (14 Kb JPEG); Golden-headed Lion Tamarin #2 (44 Kb JPEG) (AZA New World Prim. TAG) 

Lion tamarins have a mane derived from long hairs on the top of the head, cheeks and throat. The golden-headed lion tamarin is predominantly black with golden to reddish-orange color on the front of the mane, the lower half of the front paws and part of the tail. It weighs about 0.6  kg (1.3 lb) and its head and body length is about 26 cm (10").  

The golden-headed lion tamarin is found in primary lowland tropical forests, such as tall, humid evergreen coastal forests and inland semi-deciduous forests, from sea level to 110 m (370'). Fruit, gums, nectar, and animal prey, including large insects, comprise the diet of the golden-headed lion tamarin. Lion tamarins are diurnal and predominantly arboreal. The golden-headed lion tamarin forages for insects in the middle levels of the forest (12 - 20 m (40 - 66')).  This tamarin lives in groups consisting of 2 - 8 individuals. There can be more than 1 adult male and female in each group, but only 1 female breeds. At night the group sleeps in a tree hole. 

The golden-headed lion tamarin has only been known from the southern portion of the coastal state of Bahia, Brazil.   Currently, the population of golden-headed lion tamarins is located in and around the Una Biological Reserve in Bahia. More than 90% of the original Atlantic coastal forest, which contains the golden-headed lion tamarin's habitat, has been lost or fragmented to obtain lumber and charcoal and to clear out areas for plantations, cattle pasture, and industry. The forests where they live are rapidly disappearing.  In addition, capture for use in zoos, laboratories and the pet trade has contributed to its decline. International trade in live tamarins has been reduced, although internal trade still occurs


Tidbits

*** 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)

*** Thanks to a massive conservation education campaign, the golden lion tamarin has become a source of pride to Brazilians and a national symbol of conservation. (Cohn 1991; AZA 1998c).

*** In 1995, an evaluation of a community education program which focused on the golden-headed lion tamarin in Bahia, Brazil showed that, although 75% of the people in the community recognized the tamarin from pictures, only 1/3 were aware of its endangered status, and only 19% of farmers in the area knew that the tamarin was seriously endangered (Anon. 1995l).

*** There is now a major conservation program for the golden-headed lion tamarin that includes management of a significant captive population, an active conservation education program in Bahia, a landowner's environmental education program, and a field study of ecology and behavior (Kleiman & Mallinson 1998).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Golden-headed Lion Tamarin Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Brazil (IUCN 2004).

Taxonomy:

In the past, the golden-headed lion tamarin and the golden-rumped lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) were both considered subspecies of the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia). 

Population Estimates:

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

History of Distribution:

The golden-headed lion tamarin has only been known from the southern portion of the coastal state of Bahia, Brazil. It was originally found between the south bank of the Rio das Contas and the north bank of the Rio Belmonte along the Atlantic Coast.  Currently, the population of golden-headed lion tamarins is located in and around the Una Biological Reserve in the state of Bahia (Macdonald 2001).

Distribution Map#1 (7 Kb GIF) 
Distribution Map #2 (275 Kb JPEG) (Inst. Cin. Biol.)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

More than 90% of the original Atlantic coastal forest, which contains the golden-headed lion tamarin's habitat, has been lost or fragmented to obtain lumber and charcoal and to clear out areas for plantations, cattle pasture, and industry. The forests where they live are rapidly disappearing.  In addition, capture for use in zoos, laboratories and the pet trade has contributed to its decline. International trade in live tamarins has been reduced, although internal trade still occurs (Seal et al. 1990, Macdonald 2001).


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of male golden-headed lion tamarins is 24 - 29 cm (10" (9.4 - 11.4"). Females weigh 0.48 - 0.59 kg (1.1 - 1.3 lb); males weigh 0.54 - 0.70 kg (1.2 - 1.5 lb).    (Rowe 1996)

Habitat:

The golden-headed lion tamarin is found in primary lowland tropical forest. Specifically, it is found in forests that have many bromeliads and bamboo, in both tall, humid evergreen coastal forests and inland semi-deciduous forests, from sea level to 112 m (367'). This tamarin seems to require mature forest, although it can use nearby secondary habitats. (Rowe 1996, Emmons & Feer 1997)

The golden-headed lion tamarin is one of the species that live in both the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) and the Brazilian Atlantic Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

Two golden-headed lion tamarins bred at the age of 12.5 months, producing one young when they were barely 16.5 months old (captivity) (Tamarin Tales 2001)

Gestation Period:

125 - 132 days. (Data mostly from populations of the related golden lion tamarin, Leontopithecus rosalia.)

Birth Season:

One study in Una Biological Reserve found that births occurred from October - April with a peak in October, November and December. No births occurred from May through September. (Raboy et al. 2001)

Birth Rate:

A study in Una Biological Reserve found that females gave birth only once a year. Golden-headed lion tamarins gave birth to singletons and twins equally. (Raboy et al. 2001)

Maximum Reproductive Age:

A male sired his last offspring at 18 years and two months (captivity) (Tamarin Tales 2001).

Maximum Age:

A male died at the age of 18 years and seven months (captivity) (Tamarin Tales 2001)

Diet:

Fruit, gums, nectar, and animal prey, including large insects, comprise the diet of the golden-headed lion tamarin.  Nectar is important in August - November.  Exudates from the pods of a bean tree (Parkia species) are eaten. (Rowe 1996)

Behavior:

Lion tamarins are diurnal and predominantly arboreal.

The golden-headed lion tamarin forages for insects in the middle levels of the forest (12 - 20 m (40 - 66')) by probing with its fingers for prey hidden in leaf debris caught in palm crowns, under loose bark, in tree holes and crevices, and in bromeliads.  At night the group sleeps in a tree hole. (Emmons & Feer 1997)

Social Organization:

The group size is 2 - 8 individuals. There can be more than 1 adult male and female in each group, but only 1 female breeds. (Seal et al. 1990, Rowe 1996)

Mortality and Survival:

One study reported that approximately 90% of offspring survived to weaning. Despite the high percentage of infants surviving to weaning, 23% died or disappeared during the first year of life. (Raboy et al. 2001)

Density and Range:

Density:

  • 0.9 - 3.0 groups/sq km (2.3 - 7.8 groups/sq mi).
  • 4.6 - 16.7 individuals/sq km (12 - 43.4 individuals/sq mi).

(Seal et al. 1990)

Group Home Range:

  • The golden-headed lion tamarin uses home ranges of about 75 hectares (190 acres).  (Emmons & Feer 1997)

References

Animals of the Rainforest, Anon. 1995l, AZA New World Prim. TAG, Ballou & van Roode 2002, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl., Curry-Lindahl 1972, Emmons & Feer 1997, Inst. Cin. Biol., IUCN 1968, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kleiman 1981, Kleiman & Mallinson 1998, Macdonald 1984, Macdonald 2001, Natl. Zoo - Cons. Sci., Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Perry 1971, Raboy et al. 2001, Rowe 1996, Rylands et al. 1997, Seal et al. 1990, Tamarin Tales 2001


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Last modified: September 10, 2006;

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