Three chicks reintroduced to Argentina 50 years after they were extinct there


Three young bare-faced curassow chicks which were born recently in a natural park have given a glimmer of hope to this vulnerable species that was declared extinct in a province in Argentina over 50 years ago.

The bare-faced curassow (Crax fasciolata) is a large bird whose main threat was from hunters, as it is similar to a chicken but much bigger.

It was declared extinct in the province of Corrientes, in north-eastern Argentina, over 50 years ago. There are around 2,500 individuals of the species left in different parts of the country.

But now there is a bit of hope thanks to the success of a programme conducted by the Rewilding Argentina Foundation, which managed to obtain two couples of this animal, both from Brazil, and they gave birth to three little chicks in an enclosed area of the natural park of Ibera, becoming the first ones born in the area after half a century.

Talia Zamboni, coordinator of the Rewilding of Ibera project, said that these three little chicks were born from two couples of this species. Pipa and Porto only had one egg in their nest, and the chick hatched on 21st February 2021. The other couple, named Foz and Bahia, had two eggs and both hatched a few days earlier, on 15th February.

The hatchings have been celebrated by the foundation, as this species had disappeared in the region 50 years ago. Zamboni said that the extinction of the species was caused by “the hunting for food, as it looks like a chicken but there is also another reason, the destruction of their habitat, the forests that have disappeared.”

The coordinator also said that wild dogs roaming the area could also have killed them off.

In the past, this animal, which can weigh up to 3 kilogrammes (6.6 lbs), was also endangered across the country and lived in the jungles and forests of the north-eastern area of the country, especially in the provinces of Formosa, Chaco, Santa Fe, Corrientes and Misiones. But in the 20th century, it became extinct in the last three of these provinces.

This bird is very important for the ecosystem as it i key to spreading fruit seeds, regenerating the forests.

When this species disappears from an area, nobody can spread the seeds and the trees have problems spreading, so the forest and the jungle become poorer.

But now, thanks to the foundation’s programme, which started on 2019, with the arrival of the first animals at the Bella Vista shelter, where they had to stay in quarantine .

The animals were finally released at the end of January 2020 and this year, their first chicks have hatched.

Zamboni said that the chicks will live with their parents for some time until they are old enough to join other groups of birds their age. The foundation is planning to introduce more of the species soon.

The bare-faced curassow is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN’s Red List, the foundation said, adding that they are land birds that can however also fly short distances.

They tend to breed between September and February when they establish their territory, which they mark and defend through vocalisations. Their nests are located at the top of trees and they are built using trees branches and sticks, among other things.

Chicks stay in the nests and are fed by their parents until they are old enough to fly to the ground on their own.

The female, whose colour, black and brown with lines, is different to the male, incubates her eggs for 30 days and once they have hatched, they are cared for by both the parent birds.