Because of its size and diversity of environments, Brazil is probably the most biologically diverse country in the world, with millions of species, natural wonders, and unique landscapes. The 6 major biomes of Brazil are incredibly distinct, and include the Pantanal, the world’s largest freshwater wetland; the Amazon, the world´s largest river basin, largest tropical forest and most pristine wild place on the planet; the Cerrado, a unique type of savanna; the semi-arid Caatinga where Spix’s macaws once abounded; the endangered Atlantic Forest,home to the largest New World monkey, the endemic muriqui; and the Pampas,highly productive grasslands that have been almost entirely converted to human use. These biomes shelter some of the world´s most iconic species, such as jaguars,peccaries, the world´s largest freshwater turtle, the giant air-breathing fish pirarucu, caimans, anacondas, macaws, the striking uakari monkey (photo below), sloths, giant river otters, and giant anteaters.The list goes on and on (see the Wikipedia site Wildlife of Brazil for a nice description). This richness of wildlife and landscapes is an important basis for human livelihoods and a rich socio-cultural diversity that has developed in these Biomes over millennia and depends on healthy ecosystems.
All around the world, societies are trying to find ways improve the peoples’ livelihoods and quality of life,and many people including conservationists are trying to find ways to accomplish this development sustainability- without causing irreversible harm to ecosystems or extinction of species. Unfortunately, we have few success stories and progress is not happening fast enough to stem predatory use of natural resources. Brazil is not an exception. Its amazing biodiversity is in peril, with large tracts of land being deforested, species being harvested or collected at unsustainable rates, and large infrastructure projects threaten to disrupt our valuable aquatic ecosystems. WCS-Brasil´s mission, like that of WCS around the globe, is simply to “Save Wildlife and Wild Places” by addressing these challenges of sustainable development and conservation with strong science and effective actions.
WCS has a long history of saving wildlife in Brazil (nearly 40 years) and across the world (over 100 years!). Currently, WCS-Brasil focuses its efforts on conserving two major biomes that are unique for their complex mosaic of forests, wetlands, waters, and of course, wildlife: the Pantanal and the Amazon. We also focus on conserving some key species, including jaguars, peccaries, migratory fish and freshwater turtles. To achieve success in conserving these landscapes and species, we do what is most needed in particular context, from developing sustainable ranching programs and researching peccary movements in the Pantanal to developing fisheries and turtles management systems and estimating jaguar populations in the Amazon.
WCS-Brasil exists to ensure that the people of Brazil and the world don´t lose any of the country’s natural treasures, and that these treasures continue to benefit our future generations by contributing to local livelihoods and cultures, producing key ecosystem services like clean water, and inspiring our imagination.