In Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forest, farmers are finding they can make more money by protecting the trees than from agriculture. The golden lion tamarin, a rare monkey, makes its home in this forest and attracts ecotourists from around the world.
Scientists have relocated monkeys who are barely surviving in small isolated forest patches to larger, intact areas where the owners agree to protect the forest. In return, the farmers are able to attract paying customers who want to be guided through the forest in hopes of seeing the brilliantly colored tamarins in their native habitat.
Luis Nelson, a farmer and forest owner, has built a lodge for 12 visitors based on his ability to attract tourists to his land. He has added a waterfall and pond for swimming, a series of gardens that are home to butterflies and birds and also provide fresh native fruits and vegetables to his dining room.
However, the highlight of any visit to Nelson’s lodge is the guided walk through the forest. While he is well versed in the local flora and is able to point out many of the unusual wild plants, most eyes are glued to the treetops. A glimpse of the golden lion tamarin swinging through the treetops is what keeps Nelson in business, and also protects the forest that is home to the endangered monkey.