Álvaro Coutinho Aguirre

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Álvaro Coutinho Aguirre
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Born(1899-07-07)July 7, 1899
Santa Teresa, ES, Brazil
DiedDecember 28, 1987(1987-12-28) (aged 88)
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
EducationAgronomic engineer
Alma materEscola Superior de Agricultura e Medicina Veterinária
  • Agronomist
  • Zoologist
  • Naturalist
Spouse(s)Eunice Coutinho
  • Arminda Coutinho e Antônio de Araújo Aguirre (father)

Álvaro Coutinho Aguirre (Santa Teresa, ES, July, 7, 1899 – Rio de Janeiro, RJ, December, 28 1987) was a Brazilian agronomist, zoologist, naturalist. Aguirre created the first reserv and refuge park for wild animals in Brazil, currently the Reserva Biológica de Sooretama[1], at the state of Espírito Santo.

He dedicated his life for the preservation of the Brazilian flora and fauna, especially the Atlantic Forest[2],and the biggest primate of the Americas, the muriqui[3], when undertook many expeditions during the 1960, to study the life and habits of the specie, and its conditions at the time. The results were published and had for dyagnosis a considerable reduction of the groups of the specie, due to the deforestation and lack of preservation of their habitat.[4]


Borned in Santa Teresa, in the heart of the Atlantic Forest at the state of Espírito Santo, Álvaro Aguirre is son of Arminda Coutinho e Antônio de Araújo Aguirre, road engineer, and grandson of Henrique da Silva Coutinho (1845-1915), farmer and governor of the Espírito Santo for twice. Married with Eunice Coutinho, daughter of Artur Coutinho D´ Alvarenga and Virgínia Nunes Coutinho, with hom had two children, Fernando and Edna Coutinho Aguirre. He had grown up in Niterói, at the state of Guanabara, and studied in the city of Rio de Janeiro, at Colégio Pedro II. He graduated as agronomic engenieer from the Escola Superior de Agricultura e Medicina Veterinária, currently the Instituto de Agronomia, of the Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro and was researcher of the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas, CNPq. Worked as Chief of the Researches Section of the extint Divisão de Caça e Pesca of the Ministério da Agricultura, and was member of the Fundação Brasileira para Conservação da Natureza e Sociedade de Agronomia.

Professional Life

Álvaro Coutinho Aguirre dedicated his life to the study of the flora and fauna of the Brazilian territory. As Chief of the Research Section of the Divisão de Caça e Pesca of Ministério da Agricultura, undertook many expeditions to different regions of the country to study, research, catalog animal and botanic life of the Brazilian forests. From the expeditions, uncountable registers were done as articles and books about the conditions of the specie[5], museums collections[6] with the taxidermist Antônio Domingos Aldrighi, former director of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca, in Rio de Janeiro, and photo documentation of the fieldwork and the way of life of the inland population. The expeditions were accompanied by a team of employees of the Divisão de Caça e Pesca, do Ministério da Agricultura, composed, besides Antônio Adrighi, by the vet Ítalo Desiderati Romeu, José Anacleto e Waldemar.

In the beggining of the 1940, Álvaro C. Aguirre created and oversaw the currently Reserva Biológica de Sooretama[7][8], in the north of Espírito Santo. The Rebio Sooretama is located 178 km north of the capital Vitória, 47 km north of the city of Linhares and 64 km south of the city of São Mateus, by the Rodovia Governador Mário Covas, BR-101.

The word "Soóretama" belongs to the tupi idioma and accord to the etymologist Jacques Raimundo[9] means "land of the forest animals"[5]. Initially, the protection extended to two areas - the Reserva Florestal Estadual do Barra Seca (1941) and the Parque de Refúgio de Animais Silvestres Soóretama (1943) - which were later merged, and acquired the status of Biological Reserve, in 1982[10], with the publication of the decreto nº 87.588[11] of Federal Govern.

In 1999, the unit was included by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO on the list of the exceptional ecological value to mankind, composing the Atlantic Forest biosphere[12]. Today, the Reserve is an Integral Protection Conservation Unit[13] and is attached to the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade – ICMBio.

The biggest continuous block of remaining Atlantic Forest of the state of Espírito Santo is composed by the Rebio Sooretama, the Reserva Natural Vale and the Natural Patrimony Private Reserves Mutum Preto and Recanto das Antas[14]. There are about 50 thousand hectares of little known Atlantic Forest, and is the last refuge of animals as the jaguar in the state [15].

From the expeditions done through different regions of the country, Álvaro Aguirre collected many species for studies and researches, and created the Fauna Museum, between the 1930 and 1950 years, at the Quinta da Boa Vista, currently belonging to the Rio de Janeiro Zoological Garden Fundação Jardim Zoológico do Rio de Janeiro. A significative part of the taxidermy samples, collected among the states of Amazonas, Pará, Mato Grosso, Bahia, Paraná, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, since the 1940, was lost in the fire of the National Museum of Brazil, as long as it was donated by the Zoooological Garden to that museum[16].

During the 1960, retired and researcher of the CNPq, Álvaro Aguirre oversaw a long bibliography and field research at the remaining blocks of Atlantic Forest to know the conditions of the Mono Brachyteles arachnoids (E. Geoffroy), the muriqui. Being the biggest primate of the Americas, the muriqui has being described, in the scientific literature and by the travellers to Brazil, since the century XVIII, as well as the evaluation of its population before 1500. Numerous at the Brazilian coast, the muriqui was food for the natives and later for the hunters of the litoraneous forests. It is characterized by the prehensile tale, which alone could have the equivalent extension of an individual, from the snout to the base of the tail. One mono adult male could measure more than one meter and a half, and weight 15 kilos[4]. As the tale works as a fifth member, the muriqui travels and garden the forest, fertilizing it with what it eat; living in groups and on the trees, it depends on the continuous blocks of forest to travel, which in 71 was already object of complaint, by the researcher, in the book O mono Brachyteles arachnoides (E. Geoffroy):

I is too late for a research of complete results about the biodinamic of the B. arachnoides in its habitat. The region of geographic dispersion of the specie has suffered a serious and irreparable misfit in its ecosistems, caused by the nefarious action of man. Nonetheless, however, the reseacher failed to apply his efforts and the means available to study the biological cicle of the specie (p. 12)The book brings the bibliographical and museological research, observation in the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná, in govern and private reservs, in farms and forests out of the protection zones. Interview with hunters, guides and local population contributs with information about the muriqui. The researcher at the end suggests actions of protection and conservation for the mono habitat, in order to preserv the specie dependent of the continuous forest to survive. Accord to the researchers Sérgio L. Mendes, Mariana P. da Silva and Karen B. Strier, the publication of the Academia Brasileira de Ciências became a "classic" and contributted to subsequent researchs[6].


Resistant to tributes and publicity, the popularity of his work is due mainly to researchers of the field that recognized his effort in documenting and analysis the species of Brazilian forests.

The obituary written by the Argentin researcher Enrique H. Bucher, his colleague and personal friend, published at the journal Ararajuba 1: 123-124, August, 1990, of the Sociedade Brasileira de Ornitologia, relates not only the importance of his contribution for the preservation fo the Brazilian fauna and flora, as his biography. He describes aspects of his personality that became part of this "distinct line of latin-amercians scientists that, besides the difficults imposed by the time and adverse environment in which they acted, were able to offer importants achievements to the science of their countries, thanks to their enormous criativity and dedication" (BUCHER, 1990, p. 123). Among those aspects, can be highlighted "deep nature lover, and on the same time practical organizer and visionary" and "tremendous energy and youth of spirit" (Id. Ibidem).

At the same year, the magazine revista Superinteressante (ano 4, n.11, nov. 1990) published the story As cordiais acrobacias do muriqui that mention the muriqui population of the Fazenda Montes Claros (MG) and its descovered by the 1960´s expeditions. The Fazenda belongs to the Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural Feliciano Miguel Abdala, where are the biggest population of muriquis-do-norte (Brachyteles hypoxanthus), specie belonged to the primate group in the world at risk of extinction.

In 1992, the nephew ngelo Arpini Coutinho and friend Brunório Serafini republished, in Vitória (ES), as private edition the book Soóretama[5], 1951, with the aim to publicize his work.

In 2004, the Expedição "Álvaro Aguirre" promoted the collect and catalogation of botanical material from the Vale do Rio Doce, between Aimorés (MG) and its mouth, in Regência, city of Linhares (ES). Among seeds, seedlings and roots collecteds, 24 species became part of the collection at the Herbarium of the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo[17]. The Expedition also produced a photo exhibition and a documentary [18], and was supported by the Associação Colatinense de Defesa Ecológica (ACODE), the Comissão Interestadual Parlamentar de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável da Bacia Hidrográfica do Rio Doce (CIPE), the Departamento de Botânica da UFES, the Mosteiro Zen Budista Morro da Vargem and the Instituto Terra.

In 2010, the Instituto de Pesquisas da Mata Atlântica (IPEMA) produced the educational "kit" O Muriqui[6] [19], composed by a book, a film and an itinerant exhibition for schools located in regions where is the specie. The project aim was education and knowledge difuse to children, about the importance of biodiversity conservation. Some successful examples are mentioned, as the Projeto Muriqui.

In the Espirito Santo, most of the activities of the ´Projeto Muriqui´ is concentrated in Santa Maria de Jetibá. We developed partnerships with schools aiming to spread the scientific knowledge about the specie and contribut to children education. The results were very promising, showing that teachers and students are very receptives to the use of the theme ´biological conservation´ in their activities. (MENDES; SILVA; STRIER, 2010, P. 68)

The educational "kit" - O Muriqui - highlighted the acting of the pioneers researchers and conservationists at the protection of the specie, as Álvaro Aguirre, Feliciano Abdala, Russell Mittermeier, Célio Valle, Adelmar Coimbra Filho and Ibsen Câmara, as well as documented with picture the meeting among the scientists in 1982, in a lecture, in Rio de Janeiro, promoted by the Fundação Brasileira para a Conservação da Natureza. The educational "kit" had the support of the CNPq, IPEMA, Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa do Estado do Espírito Santo (FAPES), Instituto Estadual de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Hídricos (IEMA), Conservação Internacional - Brasil and was produced by the Department of Biological Sciences of the UFES and by the Museu de Biologia Prof. Mello Leitão.

In 2013, the Reserva Biológica de Sooretama comemorated its 70 years with an ecological walk. To recognize the effort of its founder, the Reserva, in a simbolic act, produced seedlings of the pau-brasil specie, from a sample tree planted by Álvaro Aguirre, and distributed to the participants with orientation for planting, along with educativ material about the Reserva Biológica de Duas Bocas produced by the Instituto Últimos Refúgios[20].


  • Catálogo das aves do Museu da Fauna. Com Antônio Domingos Aldrighi. 2a parte. Rio de Janeiro: Delegacia Estadual do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Brasileiro de Desenvolvimento Florestal, 1987.
  • Catálogo das aves do Museu Fauna [21][22].Com Antônio Domingos Aldrighi. 1a parte. Rio de Janeiro: Delegacia Estadual do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Instituto Brasileiro de Desenvolvimento Florestal, 1983.
  • Distribuição, costumes e extermínio da "avoante" do nordeste, Zenaida auriculata noronha Chubb. Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 1976.
  • O Mono Brachyteles arachnoides (E. Geoffroy) Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 1971.
  • Contribuição a um plano visando a preservação da fauna Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura/Serviço de Informação Agrícola, 1967.
  • Contribuição para o conhecimento da alimentação das aves brasileiras. Com Otto Schubart e Helmut Sick. In Arquivos de Zoologia, vol. 12, 1965. Departamento de Zoologia, São Paulo.
  • As avoantes do Nordeste Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura/Serviço de Informação Agrícola, 1964
  • Estudo sobre a biologia e consumo da Jaçanã Porphyrula martinica (L) no estado do Maranhão. Rio de Janeiro: Separata dos Arquivos do Museu Nacional, LII, 1962. 52: 9-20.
  • Aspectos da vida do Caranguejo e sistema de sua exploração no município de São Mateus e Conceição da Barra no estado do Espírito Santo. Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura/DNPA, Boletim de Caça e Pesca, 1959.
  • Contribuição ao estudo da biologia do Jacaré-açu da Amazônia. Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura, 1956
  • Contribuição ao estudo da biologia do Macuco, Tinamus solitarius (Vieillot). Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura.
  • A caça e a pesca no pantanal do Mato Grosso Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura, 1945.
  • A caça e a pesca no Vale do Rio Doce: estado do Espirito Santo Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura, Divisão de Caça e Pesca, 1954.
  • A pesca da Tainha e seu valor econômico e industrial no estado do Rio Grande do Sul. In A voz do mar, XVIII (160), Rio de Janeiro, 1939.
  • A pesca e a caça no Alto São Francisco. Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura/Divisão de Caça e Pesca, 1936. 28p.


  1. "Reserva Biológica de Sooretama - WikiParques". www.wikiparques.org. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  2. TARDIN, Nilo. "Lixo ameaça vida na foz do Rio Doce. A Expedição Álvaro Aguirre, realizada no início deste mês, fez um inventário dos problemas que afetam a conservação ambiental do rio em terras capixabas". www.ijsn.es.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  3. "IEMA - Muriqui". iema.es.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  4. 4.0 4.1 AGUIRRE, Álvaro (1971). O Mono Brachyteles arachnoides (E. Geoffrey). Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Ciências. pp. 1–14.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 AGUIRRE, Álvaro (1951). Soóretama (Estudo sobre o Parque de Reserva, Refúgio e Criação de Animais Silvestres, "Soóretama", no Município de Linhares, Estado do Espírito Santo). Rio de Janeiro [Vitória, ES]: Serviço de Informação Agrícola, Ministério da Agricultura [edição particular, autorizada pela família do autor. COUTINHO, ngelo A.; SERAFINI, Brunório].
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 MENDES; SILVA; STRIER, Sérgio L.; Mariana P.; Karen B. (2010). O Muriqui. Vitória, ES: Instituto de Pesquisas da Mata Atlântica.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. "Reserva Biológica de Sooretama - WikiParques". www.wikiparques.org. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  8. "Reserva Biológica de Sooretama". Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre (in português). 2019-05-17.
  9. José Pereira da; Leodegário A. de, Silva; Azevedo Filho (2012). "DICIONÁRIO BIOBIBLIOGRÁFICO DA ACADEMIA BRASILEIRA DE FILOLOGIA" (PDF). ABRAFIL. Retrieved 2020-05-31.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. "REBIO de Sooretama | Unidades de Conservação no Brasil". uc.socioambiental.org (in português do Brasil). Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  11. "ICMBio - Reserva Biológica de Sooretama - Quem Somos". www.icmbio.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  12. "ICMBio - Reserva Biológica de Sooretama - REBIO de Sooretama". www.icmbio.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  13. "wwf org". www.wwf.org.br. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  14. "Reservas para o corredor". ((o))eco (in português do Brasil). 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  15. Garbin, Mário L.; Saiter, Felipe Z.; Carrijo, Tatiana T.; Peixoto, Ariane L.; Garbin, Mário L.; Saiter, Felipe Z.; Carrijo, Tatiana T.; Peixoto, Ariane L. (December 2017). "Breve histórico e classificação da vegetação capixaba". Rodriguésia (in português). 68 (5): 1883–1894. doi:10.1590/2175-7860201768521. ISSN 2175-7860.
  16. "Fundação RIOZOO". www0.rio.rj.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  17. "Seja Bem-Vindo | Herbário VIES". herbario.ufes.br. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  18. ":: Prefeitura Municipal de Colatina - Notícias ::". www.colatina.es.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  19. marcadaguafilmes. "O Muriqui – Instituto IPEMA" (in português do Brasil). Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  20. Santos, Valdir (2013). "RESERVA BIOLÓGICA DE SOORETAMA COMEMORA 31 ANOS COM CAMINHADA ECOLÓGICA". Reserva Biológica de Sooretama. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  21. "IBGE | Biblioteca | Detalhes | Catalogo das aves do Museu da Fauna / Alvaro Coutinho Aguirre e Antonio Domingos Aldrighi. -". biblioteca.ibge.gov.br. Retrieved 2020-05-31.
  22. "Catálogo das aves do Museu Fauna. Primeira parte / Álvaro Coutinho Aguirre e Antonio Domingos Aldrighi". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2020-05-26.

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