Saving the blue-billed curassow: implementing urgent conservation actions

Luis Eduardo Uruena

Cracids are ecologically important primary forest birds that are highly susceptible to human disturbance from both hunting and habitat destruction, making ideal bio-indicators for forest monitoring and management, as well as flagship species for the conservation of neotropical forests. The enigmatic blue-billed curassow (Crax alberti - local name “Paujil”), endemic to the tropical humid forests of northern Colombia, is the cracid species most threatened with extinction in the wild. Intensive deforestation, hunting and human settlement throughout its limited range has eradicated the species from much of its historic range and it is entirely unprotected in its remaining habitat. Considering the acute risk of extinction, Project “Saving the blue-billed curassow” won the Silver BP Conservation Award in 2004 and immediately launched a nationwide student initiative that culminated in identifying the last remaining viable population of Crax alberti, in Serranía de las Quinchas.

This project follow-up aims to implement the Crax alberti Action Plan, focusing attention on direct conservation action through consolidating the protection and future financial sustainable of El Paujil Nature Reserve as well as protecting surrounding forest through community development and awareness initiatives. Furthermore, we will establish a program for training and assisting local people to monitor and protect Crax alberti across Northern Colombia. We hope that our actions to date have shown that whilst we are a young team, our dedication and motivation for conservation has prevailed. Importantly, with BP support, we will ensure the future survival of Crax alberti and a host of other Threatened flora and fauna restricted to the imperiled forests of Northern Colombia.

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