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Bird Supposed Extinct Rediscovered in Colombia after 238 Years


Magdalena Tinamou rediscovered Colombia
The Magdalena Tinamou has been rediscovered in Colombia, notably returning to the forests of Tolima after being absent for 238 years. Credit: Anthocephala – Asociacion Tolimense de Ornitologia/Facebook

The Magdalena Tinamou, also known as the red-legged tinamou (Crypturellus erythropus), is an endemic bird that has returned to the forests of Tolima, Colombia, after 238 years of absence.

This incredible rediscovery has been made possible through meticulous observation and recording of sightings by Cristian Mauricio Cardona and Felipe Vasco, two passionate birdwatchers, with the support of biologists from the Tolima Ornithology Association (Anthocephala) and members of the local community.

Species Thought Lost

This encounter holds extraordinary significance as this subspecies, previously considered extinct in Tolima, was last documented during the famous Botanical Expedition led by Jose Celestino Mutis over two centuries ago.

Crypturellus erythropus saltuarius belongs to the ancient tinamidae family, one of the oldest in the world of birds. Despite some speculation about whether the Magdalena Tinamou could be a distinct species, the lack of solid evidence does not support such a claim.

Crucial biological aspects such as vocalizations, genetics, and distribution boundaries remain a mystery, emphasizing the urgency of researching and understanding the different tinamou populations.

The Key Sighting

The first sighting of this species occurred on July 3 of this year when Cardona and Vasco found a lifeless specimen in the Mendez district, Armero Guayabal municipality. This initial discovery was crucial as it allowed for the identification and confirmation of the species, officially reintroducing it to Tolima.

The Tolima Ornithology Association urgently calls for the conservation of tropical dry forests, a highly threatened ecosystem in Colombia. Records of this species are concentrated in well-preserved fragments of this habitat, indicating that the survival of the Magdalena Tinamou depends on the preservation of these areas.

Magdalena Tinamou rediscovered Colombia
Cristian Mauricio Cardona and Felipe Vasco, the bird watchers whose observations allowed the rediscovery of the Magdalena tinamou in the region. Credit: Anthocephala – Asociacion Tolimense de Ornitologia/Facebook

Both governmental and non-governmental entities, such as the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Tolima and the Honda Chamber of Commerce, among others, are urged to support efforts to protect the habitat of this unique species. The recovery of the Magdalena Tinamou is a collective effort that promises significant benefits for both nature and local communities.

Potential for Sustainable Tourism

In addition to its biological importance, the Magdalena Tinamou opens up opportunities for birdwatching tourism in the region. This could not only boost local economies but also promote sustainable tourism.

This recent rediscovery adds to the growing list of species found in Colombia, such as the jaguar Panthera onca, which was seen in the Palmarito reserve, located in the municipality of Orocue, in the southern department of Casanare. After almost two decades, a perfectly healthy individual was recorded in this reserve.

The news spread quickly through a publication by the Palmarito Foundation, which celebrated the unexpected return of the jaguar to the region. “When it was believed to be extinct in the region, during a camera trap exercise in the Palmarito reserve, we obtained this wonderful record. The jaguar has returned to Cravo! It will be called Palmarito,” reads the publication.

The Palmarito Reserve, bordering the Cravo Sur River, has been monitored by researchers since 2007, but the jaguar had remained elusive all these years. According to Alejandro Olaya, director of the foundation, in an interview with El Espectador newspaper, during this time, they documented “a magnificent diversity of fauna, animals we could never have imagined.” However, the jaguar remained elusive until now.

Camera traps, distributed throughout the reserve spanning 2,600 hectares, finally captured images of this elusive feline. Laura Miranda, an ecologist at Javeriana University and director of the Cunaguaro Foundation, explained that jaguars have a unique spot pattern that remains consistent over the years. Using these photos, scientists were able to confirm it was a new individual, marking a milestone in the conservation of the species.

Urgent Call for Conservation

Jaguars and other species inhabiting the southern Casanare reserves face constant threats due to habitat loss, poaching, and the expansion of monocultures. In an area with six months of winter and six months of summer, protecting their habitat becomes even more critical. Their preservation is not only fundamental for Colombia’s biodiversity but also essential for maintaining the balance of these unique ecosystems.

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