With such an abundant and diverse array of natural ecosystems it is only normal that the Atlantic Forest Great Reserve shelters dozens of unique or threatened wildlife species.
Among the Amphibians, the region’s cloudforests are famous for hosting several endemic species of tiny and colorful Brachycephalus frogs. These frogs use the mountain tops of this region as evolutionary islands, as in a “Brazilian Galapagos”. Inside local rainforests, Humboldts’s glass frogs (Hyalinobatrachium uranoscopum) spawn on broad leaves of vegetation along the banks of rivers and streams, with tadpoles falling straight into the water. Or the split-backed frog (Flectonotus fissilis), whose females carry their eggs on their back until they are left on bromeliads to hatch.
Regarding reptiles, the jararaca snake (Bothrops jararacuss) or the tegu lizards (Tupinambis sp.) are widespread through the region. It also holds the only known population of the endangered Cropan’s boa (Corallus cropanii).
As is typical of Neotropical forests, the Atlantic Forest Great Reserve stands out for its variety of birds. These include such colorful birds as the green-headed tanager (Tangara seledon) and several species of toucans (Ramphastos sp.). It hosts 100% of the World population of the endemic and threatened red-tailed amazon parrot (Amazona brasiliensis), and holds several flocks of the globally endangered vinaceous-breasted amazon (Amazona vinacea). The endemic and endangered Paraná antwren (Formicivora acutirostris) inhabits a few wetlands sited on the southern section of the Atlantic Forest Great Reserve. Among raptors, local forests are used by three species of crested-eagles (Spizaetus sp.), while the rare rufous crab-hawk (Buteogallus aequinoctialis) fly the mangroves. Sadly, the presence of the massive harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) has not been reported in the region for many years. On the bays and coastal wetlands colorful scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber) are joined by cormorans (Nannopterum brasilianus), graceful boobies (Sula sp.) and the magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens).
Regarding mammals, the area also stands out for conserving the largest population of the southern muriqui monkey (Brachyteles arachnoides) and two species of endangered lion tamarins: a small population of the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) and the only population of the black-faced lion tamarin (Leontopithecus caissara).
The area also maintains good populations of large herbivores that are especially sensitive to hunting, like tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) and white-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari), which are complemented by more ubiquitous large herbivores like brocket deers (Mazama sp.), collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) and pacas (Agouti paca). The adaptable puma (Puma concolor) is relatively widespread throughout the region. It also harbors good numbers of the beautiful ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), the rare bush dog (Speothos venaticus) and what is arguably the largest population of jaguars (Panthera onca) within the whole Atlantic Forest.
Inside the bays and on the coast it is easy to see the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) and Babitonga, in Santa Catarina, is famous for being the only bay in the World that harbors a resident population of the rare franciscana dolphin or toninha (Pontoporia blainvillei). Local beaches are used by green turtles (Chelonya midas) for nesting. The local coast is also inhabited by the large manta ray (Manta birostris), and groupers (Epinephelus itajara), which can exceed 400 kg and find shelter in the reefs protected by the oceanic islands.
Photography by Zig Koch, Reginaldo Ferreira, Mariana Landis & Projeto Toninhas