The Brazilian Amazon is a wide territory totalling 60 percent of the country's area. Of this area, 600 000 km2 is occupied by humans and related activities. This, among other factors, leads to the destruction of the Amazon's natural resources. The area of cut down and degraded forest may range from 5 to 12 percent of the total area. Therefore, many of the Amazon species are at risk of extinction. However, it is deemed urgent to investigate and preserve the threatened animal species.
The total number of mammal species in the world is recorded at 4 629 and there is a great diversity of them in the Amazon, including animals that live on land, water or those that fly. Despite this huge biodiversity, the most relevant species for the human population, are the domestic species, brought to the continent by the first settlers: Portuguese and Spanish.
The most important livestock in the Amazon region are cattle, horses, buffaloes, sheep and goats. They occupy all Amazon ecosystems and are of very important consideration for the opening of agricultural frontiers and for influencing the natural ecosystems, since the main reason for the cutting down of large forest areas has been to use them for pastures. This has resulted in an artificial ecosystem of degraded natural environment.
The Animal Germplasm Bank of East Amazon (BAGAM) is the animal germplasm bank for the conservation of animal genetic resources of Embrapa East Amazon, and is part of the research project entitled “Animal Genetic Resources of East Amazon”. The project is formed by two sub-projects: “Germplasm bank of animals of interest to the East Region of the Brazilian Amazon” and “Genetic characterisation of buffaloes in the Brazilian Amazon, through the use of molecular markers”. These two sub-projects are linked to the research programme led by CENARGEN, called Conservation and Utilisation of Animal Genetic Resources.