July 21, 2010

Dangers of Being a Monkey

If they manage to avoid being run over by cars or trucks, one Brazilian monkey risks being eaten by big clever cats who have learnt how to mimic their prey.

Research by the Federal University of Amazonas and the Wildlife Conservation Society proves indigenous people’s claims that wild cats – possibly even jaguars and pumas – hunt some monkeys by imitating their call.

The evidence came from new studies on the pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor) monkey. Found only in Brazil, a species is identified on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and one of the most endangered monkeys in the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon city of Manaus, with around 3 million inhabitants, has grown exponentially leaving only small islands of trees as the concrete rolls out in widening circles. Pied tamarins still survive in these urban pockets, though they’re frequently found as road-kills or fried on power lines. Their main remaining habitat is in the canopy where it can leap between branches in the swampy rainforest edge immediately north of Manaus, an area under significant pressure from logging, road building and settlement expansion. A diurnal species that can run on four legs, left to their own devices the pied tamarin likes to forage for food (insects, fruits, resins and nectar) and mate polyandrously (i.e. the female mates with any male member of its group).


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