News from Brazil



The Brazilian Ministry of Environment is currently carrying out a complete assessment of the conservation status of all vertebrates that occur in Brazil. The assessment of Brazilian snakes was carried out in two workshops in 2012 (April and October) and was coordinated by Marcio Martins (the South America Regional Coordinator of VSG) and Cristiano Nogueira, in collaboration with the Brazilian Center for Research and Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles (RAN-ICMBio). A total of 24 researchers from several universities and research centers in Brazil attended the workshops. The results of the workshops (assessments of 391 species) were then reviewed by Red List Authorities in a workshop held in April, 2013. The results of this first complete assessment of Brazilian snakes will be published soon by the Ministry of Environment.

Among the 29 threatened species of Brazilian snakes, seven (24%) are vipers (three Critically endangered, three Endangered, and one Vulnerable), most of them island endemics. Of the five island vipers (Bothrops alcatraz, B. insularis, B. otavioi, Bothrops) sp. 1 from Moela Island, and Bothrops, sp. 2 from Buzios Island), two were described recently (2001 and 2013) and two are still being described. Furthermore, a sixth species (also in the genus Bothrops) from an island in eastern Brazil was recently found and may also be endangered. Almost all island species were considered threatened because of their very small extent of occurrence associated with habitat disturbance (see an example below). The two mainland species (Bothrops muriciensis and B. pirajai), both of them EN, occur in geographically restricted areas and their habitats are still being destroyed. In most of these cases, habitat protection is the main conservation action recommended by specialists. Furthermore, one Amazonian viper (Bothrocophias microphthalmus) was categorized as DD in Brazil.

These assessments of Brazilian vipers were used to review the assessments already in the IUCN World red list as well as to produce new assessments for this list. This work was carried on by an undergraduate student from the University of São Paulo, Irina Birskis Barros, at the Institute of Zoology in London, under the supervision of Monika Böhm (who led the recent paper on the conservation status of the World’s reptiles) and Marcio Martins.

Excellent news was published by Brazilian newspapers last June: the Brazilian Navy will stop completely the cannon shooting practice at the Alcatrazes Island off the coast of southeastern Brazil. This island is home of the endemic pitviper, Bothrops Alcatraz, and of a recently described endemic frog. The impacts caused by the shooting practice (including extensive fires) were the most important threatening factors for the Alcatrazes pitviper.