Belem Curassow Crax pinima


Justification of Red List Category
This recently-split curassow inhabits the most deforested part of Amazonia, and is also targeted by hunters. A tiny captive population exists, but there are no confirmed records from the wild since 1978. Any remaining wild population must be extremely small, and is likely to still be declining. For these reasons the species is classified as Critically Endangered.

Population justification
The last confirmed record in the wild was made in 1978 although there are persistent rumours that the species may be present in Gurupi, and there are relatively recent reports from Tailândia. If this is true it is still unlikely that more than 20-30 individuals exist even if it is not already extinct (A. Lees in litt. 2014).

Trend justification
A model of forest loss in the Amazon basin since 2002 (Soares-Filho et al. 2006), combined with the species’s approximate maximum range and data on its ecology and life history (following the methods of Bird et al. 2011), suggests that the species will lose 78-88% of suitable habitat in the Amazonian portion of its range (as defined by the model, and which accounts for c. 68% of the total area of suitable habitat for this species) over 35 years (estimate of three generations). The pessimistic scenario for forest loss suggests that the species will lose at least 60% of its global extent of suitable habitat over this period. By also factoring in additional declines owing to the species’s susceptibility to fragmentation, edge-effects and hunting, the suspected rate of population decline is thought to be 70% over 35 years.

Distribution and population

Crax pinima is restricted to Maranhão and Pará in the Belém area of endemism in north-east Amazonia, Brazil.  It is extinct around Belém, Pará (Novaes and Lima 1998), and may survive only in western Maranhão at Gurupi Biological Reserve and adjoining areas (Lees et al. 2013). The species was not found during extensive fieldwork around Paragominas in eastern Pará (A. Aleixo per F. Olmos in litt. 2003). During extensive sampling in the municipalities of Capitão Poço, Dom Eliseu, Paragominas, Santa Bárbara do Pará, Tailândia, and Tomé-Açu from 1998-2009, the only reports of the species came from local inhabitants who reported that the species persisted in very low densities in the Agropalma Group Forestal Reserves in Tailândia, where it is rarer than Mitu tuberosum, which is larger and sought-after by hunters (Portes et al. 2011). In western Maranhão it was seen in reasonable numbers in the forests along the Rio Pindaré in 1977. There were no further confirmed sightings in the wild until 2017, when an expedition to Gurupi Biological Reserve recorded a male and a female (Mendes et al. 2017). It is likely to be close to global extinction in the wild (Lees et al. 2013). In 2009 five individuals (three females, plus two males potentially of this species) were seized in trade and sent to a conservation breeding centre in Santa Catarina; one female and one male died in a landslide in 2010. Two further females were subsequently located at a breeding centre in Minas Gerais, giving a surviving known total of four females and one potential male in captivity (Laganaro 2013).


This species inhabits humid, semi-deciduous and gallery forests, and is often recorded in woodland edges (del Hoyo 1994). It forages on the ground, taking fruits and other items such as leaves (del Hoyo et al. 2014). Breeding information is limited (Clay and Oren 2006).


The expansion of agribusiness and logging has currently made the Belém Centre of Endemism the most deforested sector of Amazonia, with only a few large and well-preserved forest tracts remaining. Even within reserves such as Gurupi, habitat destruction has been significant as illegal logging, cultivation and grazing have continued unchallenged. Hunting is likely to represent a significant additional threat.

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
The species occurs in Gurupi Biological Reserve, and there are reports from the Agropalma Group Forestal Reserves. A tiny captive population exists in private collections in Brazil and Mexico (del Hoyo et al. 2014). It is listed as Endangered on the Brazilian and Pará state Red Lists (del Hoyo et al. 2014).

Conservation and research actions proposed
Continue to search potentially suitable remaining habitats for the species, and follow up any further reports of its persistence in the wild. Consider genetic analysis on the captive male to confirm that it is C. pinima. Maintain and expand the tiny captive population with a view to eventual reintroduction if appropriate. Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Integrate the protection of Gurupi Biological Reserve with that of the surrounding indigenous lands (Mendes et al. 2017). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.


c. 65 cm. Large curassow, males are black with a white vent while females have dark uppersides with narrow pale barring, and pale buff underparts. Both sexes have a curled crest of elongated black or black and white feathers. Similar species. Previously included with C. fasciolata, but present species is smaller (can be only half the weight of C. fasciolata), and females are paler below and darker above with narrower barring.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Ashpole, J, Wheatley, H., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Fisher, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A.

Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Crax pinima. Downloaded from on 18/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/10/2021.