Mitu mitu 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Cracidae

Scientific Name: Mitu mitu
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Alagoas Curassow
Spanish Paují de Alagoas, Paují Menor
Crax mitu mitu BirdLife International (2004)
Crax mitu mitu Stotz et al. (1996)
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Identification information: 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).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct in the Wild ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Silveira, L.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Sharpe, C J & Symes, A.
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.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2012 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
2010 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
2008 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
2004 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
2000 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
1996 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
1994 Extinct in the Wild (EW)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: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. 

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):300
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: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.
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and 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).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):12.5
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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 [top]

Conservation Actions: 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.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: No decline  
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: No decline  
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

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.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.2). Available at: (Accessed: 13 November 2013).

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.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Mitu mitu. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22678486A47987223. . Downloaded on 25 November 2015.
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