The Araripe Oasis Project aims to prevent the extinction of Antilophia bokermanni. This scientific name refers to a bird known as the Araripe Manakin (soldadinho-do-araripe) or Levadeiro (male)
and Lavadeira-da-Mata (female). It is the only bird species endemic to Ceará, inhabiting the last remnant humid forests to be found in the municipalities of Missão Velha, Barbalha, and Crato. The species is classified as having the highest degree of threat to its extinction (Critically Endangered).
Aquasis has been working for the conservation of this species since 2004, when it began to develop public policies that eventually evolved into a national conservation action plan aimed at protecting it from extinction. The Araripe Oasis Project promotes the creation and management of private and public conservation areas (UCs - Unidades de Conservação) to protect the unique humid forest habitats of the bird. As a part of this conservation strategy, our team also supports initiatives to improve the protection and management of precious water resources that are shared by the fauna and people living in the restricted area of occurrence for the Araripe Manakin.
In addition to protecting the remaining forests, the Araripe Oasis Project is committed to recovering and enriching degraded habitat for the Araripe Manakin by planting the fruiting plant species that serve as food and nesting resources for the bird. Research using new conservation techniques have been adapted and tested for local conditions. To assess whether our actions are effective at achieving conservation goals, periodic censuses are conducted in order to monitor the species population.
The Araripe Manakin depends directly on vegetation bordering the watercourses that emanate from natural springs, particularly fruiting plants that are the basis of the species diet. Males are colorful, while females and juveniles are dull green. Males tend to sing more during the hottest hours of the day, while females only utilize simple calls. Males do not participate in nest building or rearing of young, such that females are entirely responsible for the care of each new brood, producing a maximum of two offspring per year. They inhabit the steep slopes of the Araripe Plateau, between 620 and 915 meters above sea level. At this elevation the forest is humid, rainfall is captured by the plateau and stored in natural aquifers of the sedimentary rock, making Cariri a type of oasis amidst the arid Caatinga landscape surrounding the Araripe Plateau.
Aquasis has been conducting research and monitoring the species in the areas of Araripe Oasis
Project private reserves since 2019. From November to March, nests are located and subsequently monitored for studies of reproductive success and genetic kinship relationships, as well as collecting data regarding body mass and feather molt, to understand the links between mortality and trends in population size. Eggs are deposited in the nest at one to two day intervals and persist for up to three weeks from laying to hatching. Hatchlings are closely tended to by the female for some time, until they are self-sufficient.
For reasons that are only partially understood, water sources have dried up in the area of the Araripe Plateau, directly affecting the species survival. The removal of vegetation around springs and watercourses is still a common practice in the region, especially during the dry season from April to November. Cutting back vegetation is done in order to enhance the flow of water, but at the same time is harmful to the bird's reproductive capacity. Springs are also modified by creating cisterns and channeled irregularly, often with plastic pipes, altering the natural flow of water and causing the surrounding vegetation to dry out and perish. The humid forest of the Araripe Manakin is also coveted for logging, agriculture and especially in the speculation for real estate. Additionally, wildfires have been increasingly frequent in the region, exacerbating the already delicate situation from decades of drought.
With the establishment of a native plant seedling nursery in 2012, we have been pursuing one of the most important actions in the conservation strategy for the Araripe Manakin, habitat improvement, recovery and reforestation.
With the creation of the Araçá Private Reserve (RPPN), 11.73 hectares of Araripe Manakin habitat was preserved, setting an example for other landowners in the region.
The Araripe Oasis Reserve (RPPN), established in 2015 and dedicated to conservation of the species in Crato, was the first private reserve to be created through the direct efforts of Aquasis.
Araripe Oasis Reserve
The Araripe Oasis Reserve is a location full of history and culture where it integrates information about the importance of preserving biodiversity.
Admission is free and opening hours are:
Friday from 2:00-6:00 PM; Saturday from 8:00-6:00; Sunday from 8:00-2:00. Visits on other days may be scheduled.
Attention: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our return to opening hours is gradual and according to public safety standards. Currently, visits must be made by appointment only.
Social distancing and masking are important to preserving public health and well-being.