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Alagoas Curassow Mitu mitu

Justification
The last (unconfirmed) sighting of this species was in the late 1980s and it is now Extinct in the Wild. There are two captive populations and, an apparently suitable forest remnant has been identified for future reintroduction efforts.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.html#.

Synonym(s)
Crax mitu BirdLife International (2004), Crax mitu Stotz et al. (1996)

Identification
83-89 cm. Large cracid with casque-like bill. All black plumage, glossed purplish-blue, except chestnut at base of tibia, vent and undertail-coverts, and narrowly brown-tipped tail. Slightly swollen red bill with whitish tip, red legs and toes and reddish-brown iris. Small crescent of bare greyish-white skin on rear ear-coverts. Similar spp. Only genus member with bare skin on ear-coverts. Congenerics have white tips to tail. Most closely resembles Razor-billed Curassow M. tuberosa, but bill not as massive and is two-toned. Voice Apparently undescribed, but males apparently share booming calls of congenerics (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012).

Distribution and population
Mitu mitu has been almost certainly extirpated from Alagoas and Pernambuco, north-east Brazil. A report from north Bahia is unreliable. It went unreported between the mid-17th century, when found in Pernambuco, and 1951, when rediscovered around São Miguel dos Campos, Alagoas. Since the early 1970s, there are records from four forests in this region. Numbers were probably as few as 20, even in the 1960s (del Hoyo 1994). The most recent reports were of hunted individuals in 1984 and perhaps 1987 or 1988. 

Population justification
A captive population, initially established in Rio de Janeiro in 1977, numbered 44 in 2000. There were 130 birds in two aviaries in 2008, some 35% of which are hybrids with M. tuberosum.

Ecology
It was apparently confined to lowland primary forest, where it was known to take fruit of Phyllanthus, Eugenia and "mangabeira". It lays two or three eggs in captivity, with one female breeding for the first time when she was two years old (del Hoyo 1994).

Threats
The extinction of this species was forecast almost as long ago as its discovery. Ceaseless clearance of its lowland forests, chiefly for sugarcane, and poaching have brought it to the verge of extinction. Sugarcane demand increased dramatically in the late 1970s, owing to a government programme to increase fuel alcohol production, hastening the destruction of remaining habitat. Pesticide-use in cane fields surrounding extant forest may also have had a detrimental effect. The last remaining area of reasonably extensive lowland forest in the region was virtually entirely cleared within six months in the late 1980s, while continued hunting served only to exacerbate the species's decline.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I and protected under Brazilian law. A private captive population, supplemented from the wild, was established in 1977, and divided between two well known aviculturists in 1999 when it numbered 44, with 10 eggs in artificial incubation (Atualidades Ornitológicas 93: 11). A 30 km2 forest remnant in Alagoas, Usina Serra Grande and Usina Leão and another site, Fazenda Petropolis, in Usina Santo Antonio have been identified for potential reintroduction attempts (Atualidades Ornitológicas 93: 11Grau et al. 2003). Other efforts, in 1983-1985, to capture wild individuals for a captive-breeding population failed. Searches of remaining forest fragments in 2001 failed to find any trace of the species (Silveira et al. 2003). The genetic composition of the captive population has been studied by Mercival Francisco and a studbook created (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue and further develop the current captive-breeding programme in order to reintroduce the species (Collar and Butchar, 2013). Ensure the integrity of forest at Usina Serra Grande and Usina Leão. Engender pride in the species to lower the risk of hunting once reintroduction is begun.

References
Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

del Hoyo, J. 1994. Cracidae (Chachalacas, Guans and Curassows). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 310-363. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Grau, E. T.; Pereira, S. L.; Silveira, L. F.; Wajntal, A. 2003. Molecular markers contribute to a breeding programme of the extinct-in-the-wild Alagoas Curassow Mitu mitu and confirm the validity of the species. Bird Conservation International 13: 115-126.

Silveira, L. F.; Olmos, F.; Long, A. 2003. The Alagoas Curassow: world's rarest cracid. Bulletin of the IUCN/Birdlife/WPA Cracid Specialist Group 17: 31-34.

Silveira, L. F.; Olmos, F.; Long, A.J. 2004. Taxonomy, history and status of Alagoas Curassow Mitu mitu (Linnaeus, 1766), the world's most threatened cracid. Ararajuba 12: 125-132.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Contributors
Silveira, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Mitu mitu. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Alagoas curassow (Mitu mitu)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Extinct in the Wild
Family Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1766)
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species