The beautiful and critically endangered Araripe manakin was first discovered as recently as 1998 by Galileu Coelho and Weber Silva. It was named Antilophia bokermanni in honour of the biologist Werner Bokerman who died in 1995 (3). The males are spectacularly patterned, with pure white plumage, black wings and tail and a bright crimson nape, crown and mid-back. There is a tuft of bright red feathers above the bill. Females, in contrast, are dull olive green in colour, with a paler belly and a smaller tuft of feathers above the bill. The song is a musical warbling ‘guru-uguru-uguru-u’; ‘wreee pur’ calls are also made (2).
Very little is known about this extremely rare species. It typically occurs in pairs and has been reported to feed on the fruits of Cordia species. Juvenile males have been found during March and January (2).
Endemic to Brazil where it has only ever been found in a very small area at the base of the Chapada do Araripe in south Ceara (2). Although very little is known of the species, it is thought that the population is very small; a survey in 2006 estimated a population of only 800 individuals (2).
Found along the slopes of the chapada (plateau) in the lower and middle stories of tall forests where there are plenty of vines, as well as clearings (2). It is associated with water springs and is therefore a good indicator of environmental quality (4).
Although the threats facing this species are not yet fully known, it is thought that habitat loss and degradation as a result of human encroachment for development and recreation, as well as clearance for agriculture (particularly banana, maize, beans and tomatoes) and cattle, is the main threat (2). The chapada region has suffered intense human pressure recently, and the locality at which the species was first described has been turned into a recreational park. The species does still occur in the area but the effects of the resulting influx of humans is unknown (4).
The location at which this beautiful bird is found is within the Araripe National Forest and a larger Environmental Protection Area, but these designations do not prevent disturbance or exploitation (2). It is imperative that this area is designated as a biological reserve or a national park (2). Thankfully, the owner of the land next to the type locality resolved to protect the habitat after this species was discovered. A project, supported by the British Petroleum Conservation Leadership Programme, is underway to shed light on the ecology of this species and to assess the main threats facing it as well as opportunities for its conservation (4). Urgent action must be taken if this critically endangered and recently discovered species is to escape extinction (2).
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