Lion Tamarins: Biology and Conservation.
Smithsonian Institution PressWashington, DC. ISBN 1588340724.
Buchbesprechung (BRAIN, P. F.):
An entire volume devoted to the genus Leontopithecus that includes four of the most charismatic South American primates namely the Golden lion tamarin ( L. rosalia); Black lion tamarin (L. chrysopygus); Golden-headed lion tamarin ( L. chrysomelas) and the Black-faced lion tamarin ( L. caissara)! This book, with its 48 contributors, essentially arose out of a series of meetings discussing lion tamarin research and conservation held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1997. The volume is divided into three sections, each with a series of commissioned chapters. Section 1 is devoted to ‘The history and Status of the Lion Tamarins’ and deals with issues such as the discovery of these primates; the phenomenon of their declines within their Brazilian localities in the early 1960s and the variety of conservation initiatives undertaken on them up to 2001. The statuses of these animals in both the wild and captivity are also presented. Section 1 also considers how 1968 changes in Brazilian law recognizing the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) has resulted in “…empowerment of activities supporting biodiversity conservation, protected areas preservation and management and endangered species recovery…” The section also discusses captive breeding programmes and their potential benefits but warns that the prognoses for the four species are very different (the Golden lion tamarin, having a well-established, genetically diverse population, is certainly in the best situation). Section 2 ‘The Biology of Lion Tamarins’ considers, amongst other issues, genetic studies on these primates; their mating systems and their reproductive biology (“Critical, both for the effective management of a captive breeding program and for the assessment of the viability and future status of wild populations.”). The section also deals with behavioural ecology considerations (e.g. time budgets and the use of space); mating systems and group dynamics; infant care (lion tamarin mothers are more involved in infant transport than are other callitrichid primates and there is a greater level of provisioning to infants) and the different kinds of communication employed by these small primates. Diseases (infective but also congenital, dental and stress) are also considered. Section 3 is devoted to ‘Conservation and Management of Lion Tamarins in the Wild’ and considers reintroduction and translocation studies; the impact of pre-release environments and post-release management on reintroduced Golden lion tamarins; metapopulation management in the conservation of Black lion tamarins; in situ conservation education in relation to these animals as well as challenges for the future.
This is an impressive volume. Callitrichid enthusiasts will be pleased to have all this currently scattered information in a single book. On another level, however, the volume provides a graphic account of the range of scientific studies and other initiatives (including education and political change) needed to undertake effective conservation of complex animals such as these primates. It also, very effectively, illustrates the benefits associated with carrying out much of the work in the country of origin. It is worth reminding ourselves that a substantial number of primate species are predominantly found in only four countries, all with substantial problems