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WCS releases 'Birds of Brazil'

NEW YORK (March 23, 2011)The job of promoting conservation in the most biodiverse nation in the world is for the birds, according to the authors of a new bird guide produced by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Cornell University Press, and Editora Horizonte in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Published in Portuguese and English, "Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil" highlights the bird life of one of the greatest wild places on Earth. More importantly, the guide strives to inspire a nation of potential conservationists to enjoy and safeguard Brazil's vibrant ecosystems and natural heritage. It is the first in a series of five regional field guides (to include more than 1,830 known species in Brazil) that will promote conservation through the hobby of birding.

The "Birds of Brazil" uses impactful graphics, lavish illustrations, and in-depth text to showcase the 740 species of birds found in the Pantanal and the Cerrado, the world's largest freshwater wetland and most endangered grassland ecosystem, respectively.

The landmark guide is specifically targeted toward Brazilians. Unlike other bird guides for Brazil, many of which are prohibitively expensive, the Portuguese version of "Birds of Brazil" will be available for 44 Brazilian Reais (about $26). The low cost facilitates a conservation strategy to make the guide widely available.

"The guide is a resource for the citizens of Brazil, one that will instill a love for the natural world through the joys of bird watching," said John A. Gwynne, WCS's emeritus Chief Creative Officer and one of the authors and artists of the guide. Other authors include: Robert S. Ridgely, author of many authoritative volumes on Latin American bird; famed neo-tropical bird artist Guy Tudor; and Brazilian ornithologist Martha Argel. The authors received crucial support from an advisory team of eminent Brazilian experts in birds from universities, other NGOs, government and tourism agencies, and a number of artists and photographers.

The work is the brainchild of the late Dr. Jos Mrcio Ayres, former director of WCS's Brazil Program and legendary conservationist who devoted his life to protecting the ecosystems of the Amazon, in large part through the establishment of sustainable development reserves. He identified bird watching as a pathway for building local commitment to conservation.

WCS President and CEO Steve Sanderson said: "Birds of Brazil is a landmark achievement for conservation of Brazil's wildlife and wild places. The people of Brazil have long revered their natural resources, and this book can serve as something of an owner's manual for Brazilians wishing to conserve their fabulous bird diversity. Inspired by a great Brazilian conservationist, it is a labor of love."

In addition to bird illustrations and descriptions, the guide includes an entire chapter on the many landscapesthe seasonal grasslands, marshes, wooded savannas, dry forestsof the Pantanal and Cerrado, providing an ecological context and a strong conservation message on these threatened wild places. Known as the "Great Plains of Brazil," the Cerrado is under a growing threat from agribusiness overdevelopment.

The "Birds of Brazil" guide will be supplemented by an extensive educational web site in Portuguese on June 1. The site will contain tips on how to become a birder, with basic information on how to use binoculars, how to identify species from key field marks, and how to find and explore the rich diversity of habitats throughout the country.

In addition to inspiring increased environmental awareness in Brazil, "Birds of Brazil" aims to stimulate ecotourism in the nation's parks and wild places for the benefit of creating local jobs and boosting local economies. The guide itself will serve as a manual for an upcoming bird guide-training workshopscheduled for March 28-30 in the city of Miranda in the Pantanal regionan event that will prepare local guides for jobs in ecotourism.


Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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