Rare Primate Sighted in Colombian Reserve

A researcher in Colombia’s Titi Nature Reserve has discovered a new population of the critically endangered Colombian Spider Monkey.

During a daytime survey last month, Juliett Gonzalez, a project scientist with ProAves, found 21 individuals, including adults, juveniles and infants.

A subspecies of the Black-headed Spider Monkey, the Colombian Spider Monkey is found only in the rainforests of Colombia and Panama.

Although there is no consensus on total population size, estimates place the number at 250.

Due to drastic declines in its population, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added the Colombian Spider Monkey to its Red List of threatened species. In the last five decades total numbers of the rare primate have decreased by 80 percent. Threats include hunting, habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

“Not only is this sighting fantastic news for one of the rarest New World primates, a species tottering on the brink of extinction, but it’s also confirmation that the Titi Nature Reserve is doing what it was designed to do, principally to provide endangered species with the habitat they need to survive,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust.

Financed by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Gonzalez’s study seeks to gather critical information about Colombian Spider Monkeys, one of the least-studied primates in Colombia. Her findings will eventually be incorporated into future conservation efforts at the reserve.

Colombian Spider Monkeys play an important role in the ecosystems they inhabit.

They survive primarily on a fruit-based diet and help maintain ecological diversity by dispersing the seeds of nearly 140 different plant and trees species.

Colombian Spider Monkeys are also noteworthy for their size. Weighing up to 22 pounds, they are one of the largest primates in the Western Hemisphere. They also lack thumbs and are highly dependent on their prehensile tails to navigate forest canopies.

The 5,691-acre Titi Reserve was created in 2013 with Rainforest Trust support. In addition to Colombian Spider Monkeys, the reserve protects key populations of the Cotton-top Tamarin, another critically endangered primate endemic to Colombia.

Over 272 bird species also depend on the reserve. This includes endangered species such as the Great Curassow, Green Macaw and Recurve-billed Bushbird.

“Successes of this kind are good reminders of the absolutely critical role that protected areas play in wildlife conservation,” said Salaman.

Source | http://www.rainforesttrust.org