Two of the Atlantic forest primate species stand out among the rest: the muriqui (Brachyteles arachnoides), which is the largest and most apelike of the South American monkeys, and the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia), which is surely one of the most beautiful of all mammals. These animals are representatives of the two highly endangered genera that are endemic to the Atlantic forest, and they have been subjects of two major public awareness campaigns that have been under way for the past 5 years (Dietz, 1985; Mittermeier et al., 1985). They have really become the flagship species for the entire region, and the campaigns using them as symbols are excellent examples of the way in which key groups of animals can be used to sell the whole issue of conservation, both in the tropical countries and in the developed world.

The campaigns for the muriqui and the golden lion tamarin have been multifaceted, including ecological research, survey work, development of museum exhibits, production of films, and distribution of a wide variety of educational and promotional materials, including posters, stickers, T-shirts, and various publications. The result is that these two species, which were virtually unknown to the general public in Brazil 5 years ago, are now so popular that they appear on the cover of phone books, on postage stamps, as themes of parades and theater presentations, and as subjects of numerous magazine and newspaper articles. All this, and of course a broad spectrum of some 50 other conservation projects being supported by the World Wildlife Fund in this region, has led to a general increase in conservation awareness, which we hope will be instrumental in helping to save what remains of the Atlantic forest and its spectacular fauna and flora.

The situation in Madagascar is even more critical than in the Atlantic forest region of eastern Brazil. Madagascar is a unique evolutionary experiment and a living laboratory that is unlike anyplace else on Earth. The island has been separated

TABLE 16–2 Countries of the World Containing the Greatest Primate Diversitya

Country

No. of Species

No. of Genera

Brazil

52

16

Indonesia

33–35

9

Zaire

29–32

13–15

Madagascar

28

13

Cameroon

28–29

14

Peru

27

12

Colombia

27

12

Nigeria

23

13

Congo

22

14

Equatorial Guinea

21–22

12

Central African Republic

19–20

11–12

Gabon

19

11

Uganda

19

11

Bolivia

17–18

11–12

Angola

18–19

10–11

aModified from Mittermeier and Oates, 1985.



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