The systematic hunting practiced by the locals, for both food and destruction and dangerous predators, coupled with habitat reduction, has led to the extinction of some species in the region. As the habitat regenerates, especially after the 1988 Constitution that banned hunting in Brazil, various species such as deer, irara, wild boar, jaguars, ocelots, and pumas have begun to return.
The biologist Elisa Girardi conducted a detailed survey of mammals. Using camera traps, she identified 22 species of mammals, almost double of the previously documented species in the area.
In 2002, the Luna Forest contained a community of 10 Brachyteles hypoxanthus. A species of monkey known as Muriqui (which means friendly people or quiet people, in the Tupi Guarani language) and Mono Carvoeiro. It is the largest primate in the Americas and according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) a critically endangered species. There are less than 500 specimens in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. This forest long suffered from illegal logging but was purchased and consolidated into the Reserva. Through a partnership with the Federal University of Viçosa and professor Fabiano Melo, the president of the Brazilian Society of Primatology, biologists and researchers are studying and monitoring this community of rare monkeys.
The Reserva do Ibitpoca has also signed a partnership with the CRAX Ambiental from Belo Horizonte to reintroduce guan, curassow, macuco, and harpy eagle into the wild. In addition, the Reserva is applying to become an area of release through the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). With their endorsement, the region will become properly prepared for the reintroduction of wild animals to nature.
The rivers of the region are often used as spawning grounds of pirapitinga, a red-tailed fish. In September and Octobur, the local population waits for this fish to descend the waterfalls, where they become easy prey. The Reserva has been actively trying to raise awareness of the importance of not disturbing the fish’s reproduction cycle and hopes to
end this fishing practice.