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In reference to the birders Nov 2008 trip report, on 11/27/08 he encountered a family group of Brown headed Spider Monkeys (Ateles fusciceps) in Playa de Oro. This primate is critically endangered and is listed in the top 25 of most critically endangered primates in the world, with an estimated less than 250 individuals left in the wild.


This is not the first time myself or others have encounted extremely rare wildlife in Playa de Oro's reserve. A few years ago one of our tour groups encountered a trio of Bush Dogs, which are the rarest of all wild canids in the world. We have also encountered fresh jaguar tracks, which was exciting because we thought they had long been hunted out in the region. It is not surprising that wildlife is being pushed further into Playa de Oro as most of the surrounding areas of jungle are destroyed. Some birds and wildlife can survive and carry on in secondary forest after the primary forest has been logged or otherwise destroyed, but others like the Brown Headed Spider monkey or the Bush Dog cannot, they need primary rainforest habitat to survive.

The thing that we need to do to help bring attention to Playa de Oro to help them preserve the habitat and the rare wildlfie there is to get the word out to the wildlife conservation community of researchers and conservationists of these sightings of rare species. If we can attract more wildlife research and studies to Playa de Oro, their findings can help bring attention to the rest of the world the importance of preserving this last remaining jewel in the region. Not just for the habitat, but for all the rare species that remain there and have found their last refuge in Playa de Oro.

If any of you supporters of PDO can help me get the word out to primate researchers, maybe we can entice someone to do a research project on the Brown Headed Spider Monkey in PDO. There are a lot of studies on this species on the internet, and if any of you can help me search the internet and email some of these researchers interested in primates, maybe we can get someone interested in doing a project at PDO. Or if you know someone in the wildlife conservaiton community--spread the word about this primate sighting. There has been next to no research studies done in the region of PDO due to how remote it is and teh extremely difficult terrain, so there is no telling what other rare species can be thriving there. And the more documention we can get of rare speices there, the more international attention we can bring to PDO and help them protect it.

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I found this 2005 press release of a biologist interested in saving the Brown headed spider monkey. These are the types of people I need help searching out and contacting to let them know of the sighting in PDO and see if we can get anyone interested in going to PDO and studying them further. 2 November 2005 Biologist in bid to save rainforest’s rare monkey

Critically endangered: The Brown-headed Spider Monkey Scientists at the University of Sussex are working with local communities in Ecuador to help save one of the world's rarest species of monkey - and the endangered rainforest where it lives. The Brown-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps) is "critically endangered", which means that without urgent action to protect the 50 known breeding pairs still in the wild, the species could become extinct. The spider monkey - unusual in that it is exclusively a fruit-eater - is under threat because up to 80 per cent of the dense rainforest that it depends on for food has been destroyed. Environmental organisation Ecuador Terra Incognita, supported by partners including the University of Sussex, has now launched the PRIMENET Project to tackle the crisis. Its aim is to determine how best to protect the monkey populations, now restricted to rainforest reserves in northwest Ecuador, then educate local communities to continue the work and ensure the spider monkey's long-term survival. University of Sussex environmental biologist Dr Mika Peck is coordinating the project. He has secured £230,000 funding for the project over three years through the Government-sponsored Darwin Initiative to aid conservation in bio-diverse regions around the world. He will also assist, along with colleagues from the geography department, in remote sensing research. This involves analysing satellite data to see where rainforest is at risk from development or logging. Dr Peck became involved because he has worked on environmental projects in South America and has conducted research into deforestation. He also has a passion for the region where the project will be based - the Los Cedros Biological Reserve in the Ecuadorean Andes, on the doorstep of the spider monkey habitat. He says: "This is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It can only be reached by donkey, trekking for five hours. It is a fairytale setting - orchids, humming birds, big cats, tapirs, moths the size of dinner plates - and is one of the richest areas for bird species." Protecting all of this, says Dr Peck, is key to the spider monkey campaign: "The spider monkey is a 'flagship' species - if they are protected then everything else in the surrounding environment is too, and one of the rare biodiversity-rich habitats of the world is preserved." The project will involve the building of a scientific research and education centre at Los Cedros, where locals from a number of diverse indigenous groups will learn how to collect scientific data and monitor monkey populations. Other strands of the project will focus on supporting Conservation International in developing "corridors" to link nature reserves in the region. Teams of scientists will also study the area's flora and fauna, much of it still new to science. In the longer term, the project aims to encourage environmentally-friendly ecotourism, offer sustainable forms of work and income for local people and offset the damage done by logging, mining and hunting - the pursuits largely responsible for destroying the rainforest on which the spider monkey and other species depend. Notes for editors For further information on the PRIMENET Project, please visit: http://www.primenet.org.uk/ Information on the Los Cedros biological reserve see
http://www.reservaloscedros.org/ For more information about the Darwin Initiative, see
http://www.darwin.gov.uk/ University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing, tel: 01273 678 888 or email M.T.Clune@sussex.ac.uk or J.A.Bealing@sussex.ac.uk
I remember the jaguar tracks; what an awesome experience!!

And I'm hoping that we can get something started with the herps soon, too! :)
That is great, birders have also found species thought to be extinct. A walk through the primary forest, is like taking a step back in time. Everything is just as it always was, man hasn't changed a thing !! I have a tour leaving Otavalo for Playa de Oro on February 9th if anyone wants to come and see for themselves. Not to late to join us.
Grace
I just sent an email to the biggest zoo in sweden. They had two black spider monkeys this fall and we could read about that everywhere.
They are also involved in research on spider monkeys.
IUCN got to have a primate group, similar to the cat specialist Group..
Tracy, have you contacted them???
You are the best suited to do that.
I will keep on emailing people over here...
Just had my left thumb operated so I have some time right now :)
There is a primate group.
I found this article..

There are two recognized subspecies of the variegated or brown spider monkey. Ateles hybridus brunneus Gray, 1870 is restricted to Colombia, occurring between the lower Ríos Cauca and Magdalena in the Departments of Bolívar, Antioquia and Caldas. Ateles h. hybridus occurs east from the right bank of the Río Magdalena extending into western Venezuela. Both subspecies are Critically Endangered due to habitat loss, hunting and the pet trade.

The large size, slow reproductive rate (single offspring at 3-4 year intervals) and generally low population densities of spider monkeys make them especially vulnerable to hunting. Historically, A. hybridus has suffered from habitat destruction, and only 0.67% of the current remaining A. hybridus distribution is protected. Most of its range has been converted to farms for agriculture and cattle.

Ateles h. brunneus has a small geographic range in a region where forest loss, degradation and fragmentation is widespread. Currently the remaining populations are surrounded by human populations, compounding the already high level of threat. Only 9% of their potential range remains as continuous forest. Surveys have been conducted to determine the density of this subspecies in Maceo and Puerto Berrio (Antioquia). To date just one group of eight individuals has been found in an area of 1,000 ha.

A refuge remains, however, in the Serranía San Lucas in southern Bolívar, identified as an important site for the establishment of a national park. A protected area is highly necessary for this subspecies, that also would include two other threatened endemic primates, the white-footed tamarin, Saguinus leucopus, and the woolly monkey, Lagothrix lugens.

Ateles h. hybridus is extremely endangered due to habitat destruction in both Colombia and Venezuela. This subspecies can be found in three protected areas in Venezuela, but little is known about the population densities and local threats there.

Ateles hybridus can be found in at least six zoos in Colombia, presenting problems of surplus animals and consanguinity. This species is suffering also from the pet trade; about 20 confiscated individuals are currently in residence in four rescue centers and need to be relocated. There is an urgent need for surveys to establish areas with populations of this species and to propose conservation measures. An ex situ breeding program is also necessary to maintain healthy and viable captive populations.

Erwin Palacios & Alba Lucia Morales-Jiménez

Good person to contact
j.aguiar@conservation.org

John M. Aguiar, Coordinator
IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group
Conservation International
2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500
Arlington, Virginia 22202-3787
Excellant finding already, Annette. I have an email out to the bird guide who sighted these monkeys to ask for more specific details of what he saw. Then I will prepare a email letter to send out to primate resources to see if we can gain any interest from that community. I think there is a lot of people interested in primates, and the fact that this species is on the top 25 of most critically endangered primates in the world has just got to draw someone in to look into them further in Playa de Oro. I think the more documentation of rare species in Playa de Oro I can get, the more outside international attention and support will come in to help preserve this habitat and the wildlife.

However, I can't always do all the work by myself to keep this reserve up and going. I need the help of all you supporters to help with time consuming leg work and helping get the word out to the rest of the world. And to help bring in more supporters! Team work! I do have an entire zoo here at home to run also, and we are having some severly cold weather at the time, which means I am doing triple the feeding and work daily to keep these animals warm during this cold front. Keith is back in the US recently, but he is in Georgia over 10 hours away at a military medical facility. He is not expected to come home for maybe as long as 6 months. So while I still have a lot of on my plate at home to care for the animal facility here, I can really use other people's help by doing some internet searching and putting together a list of contacts to send them this info on this primate sighting in PDO, once I have more details on the sighting. Or I may prepare a form letter from me and let you guys send it out yourselves to whatever contacts you can find, and if they are intersted, then they can follow up with me later, while I work on the same as well. I am sure we will have to contact a lot of people to find someone that has the time and resources to actually do something in the near future. So the more contacts we put out there as a team, the better chance of success!

Contacting zoos, universities, conservation orgs, and any primate groups, biologists, researchers, etc is what we all need to work on.
Tracy,
I am so happy Keith is at least back in US with you!! I hope he is safe.

A form letter would be great!!
Also, but not in the form letter itself, a brief presentation of the deal between Touchthejungle and Playa de Oro.
I found that this is something that impresses people big time!
It´s a good thing to be able to use while presenting the conservation project.
Also, anyone who ever tried conservation in situ must know that the people living in the area is just SO important!
It can´t be done without them.
I will be more than happy to extend the area of info for Touch The Jungle/Playa de Oro/Intag in the NWHS website. Other geographic areas of interest can also be addressed. We can add the primate info there to display it to web surfers.

Then a link can just be used to provide a lot of info all in one place. Also, the NWHS website gets a lot of hits. When I view the hits from the stats tracker I see a lot originate from .edu's. This indicates that people from schools are surfing the site. The descriptions, info and slideshow is impressive and can be used to stir up interest.

We still need a primate expert on the Advisory Council btw...

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