In the 1970s the numbers of these monkeys in zoos were declining as fast as those in the wild (5) (7). At this time, researchers from the National Zoological Park in Washington DC developed techniques for successfully breeding this species in captivity, and created a conservation plan to implement genetic and demographic management of the captive population involving long term studies of the species, educating local communities about conservation efforts, and increasing the extent of protected habitats (5). Lion tamarins are now flagship species used in education programmes as ambassadors for their endangered rainforest habitat. To save the species, the Atlantic coastal forest has to be saved, which encourages people to protect the whole ecosystem (3). In 1995 the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, combined with local Brazilian organizations, signed a formal contract to reinforce current conservation measures, and develop new ones. Vital projects included the purchase of new land, habitat regeneration, especially the planting of 'green corridors' between fragmented forest areas, community education and the training of local staff (3). Many other conservation organizations – such as Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society - are also doing equally important work in Brazil (2). The survival of this species depends on this vigilant monitoring and management of wild populations, captive breeding and habitat restoration, otherwise it could still become extinct in the next decade (5). This is a great example of how conservation can work to save a species, but it also highlights how close we came to losing this extraordinary primate (6).
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