Bare-faced curassow

The bare-faced curassow (Crax fasciolata) belongs to the Cracidae family, which is considered one of the most threatened families in the region, having almost half of its species with some degree of threat due to their susceptibility to habitat loss and hunting.

A bird threatened in the country

The bare-faced curassow is categorized as "Vulnerable" at the global level and as a species of "high conservation priority". In Argentina the species is categorized as "Endangered", due to the level of reduction of its populations and occupation areas, added to the continuity of the threats to them, such as poaching and the degradation or hábitat loss due to logging or alterations in water courses. It is estimated that the number of adult individuals would not exceed 2,500 individuals, and the most viable populations are found in the gallery forests of eastern Formosa and isolated and scarce in the northeastern of Chaco, in the Wet Chaco region. In the rest of its historical distribution, in the provinces of Corrientes, Misiones and Santa Fe, it is extinct.

An important ecological role

The bare-faced curassow inhabits forests and surrounding areas, often associated with streams or rivers. It is a mainly frugivorous species that feeds on fallen fruits, buds and seeds, and even flowers and invertebrates. Like other cracids, the bare-faced curassow has the ability to disperse tree seeds, especially those of large size that can not be ingested by other birds or mammals, and are hard seed predators for the digestive action of their stomachs. It is for this reason that it fulfills a key ecological role in maintaining the ecological functions and biodiversity of the forests they inhabit, being able to intervene in forest regeneration and restoration processes.

Records of the species in Iberá

There is evidence that the species inhabited the north of the province of Corrientes. The last records date from 30 to 40 years ago and are located along the Paraná River (near the town of Ituzaingó, in the area of ​​the Yacyretá dam and in the north of the Iberá wetland (near Villa Olivari). Although there are no records further south of the province, it is likely that the species has inhabited other sectors of the Iberá and Aguapey, which have similar environments of neotropical seasonal dry forests, suitable for the development of the species.

The opportunity to recover one of the great dispersers in Iberá

Both for its conservation status and its role in the ecosystems in which it lives, we consider the beginning of the experimental reintroduction of the bare-faced curassow within the Iberá Park. The recovery of the species would not only increase the population number of a species that has been lost in a large part of its original distribution, but also allow it to recover its role as a forest regenerator through the dispersion and control of large seeds. In addition to the ecological effect of restoring the bare-faced curassow in the ecosystem, the reintroduction of this species would represent another important resource for ‘nature production’ that is being developed in the region, based on ecotourism and wildlife watching.

The first chosen release site is the private reserve of CLT Rincón del Socorro. Its forest sectors have begun a remarkable process of recovery thanks to the cattle exclusion and the suppression of frequent fires. This reserve protects the largest area of ​​forests in the category of strict conservation of the Iberá Reserve, and is adjacent to the extensive Iberá Provincial Park, also with strict conservation status. Due to the favorable conditions for the species in the area in terms of availability of environments and absence of threats, it is considered that the Rincón del Socorro Reserve would have a high potential as a site to initiate the bare-faced curassow experimental reintroduction project in Iberá.