Most of Brazil's electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants that require the flooding of huge areas and affect the stability of local ecosystems. The area of the Porto Primavera power dam was flooded in 1998 and a rescue programme was executed to save the fauna sheltering on treetops or emerging islands. Using DNA fingerprinting we estimated the genetic variability in a sample of 23 Bare-faced Curassow Crax fasciolata rescued in this area and found that the mean heterozygosity was H=0.89. Although similar data on other natural populations of cracids is not available, the mean heterozygosity observed in the present sample is in the range found for free-living populations of two species of reintroduced cracids whose origin was captive breeding of a limited number of founders. We suggest that a collaborative captive breeding and reintroduction programme between the facilities holding the birds caught at Porto Primavera should start immediately to avoid the loss of genetic variability due to the small number of founders in captivity. Habitat protection, responsibility in fauna management and measures that prevent or correct the isolation of habitat fragments are needed to establish an equilibrium between progress and conservation in developing countries.