BECOMING A PRIMATE PRO... SORT OF
10 OF THE MOST ENDANGERED PRIMATE SPECIES
#10 NORTHERN MURIQUI
Also known as the WOOLLY SPIDER MONKEY
and sometimes referred to as HIPPY MONKEY
Common names are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by country, region, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.
Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. They are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language you may speak. They are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. Scientific names prevent misidentification. Those names only change if a species, or its genus, is officially redesignated by experts.
Native to Brazil, they occupy the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, and Bahia—and a recently confirmed single population resides in Rio de Janeiro within Itatiaia National Park, on the border of Minas Gerais in the Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range.
Northern muriquis reside in tropical semi-deciduous, late successional forests; that is, forests that remain unchanged in composition so long as they remain undisturbed. Here, large trees with an average height of 44 ft (13.4 m) provide a dense canopy that allows the monkeys to easily travel from one treetop to another. The monkeys are also found in patches of primary forest, secondary forest, highly disturbed areas of secondary vegetation, and scrub forest. Their range excludes the lowland forests in the extreme south of Bahia and northern Espírito Santo.
- Called hippie monkeys for their peaceful lifestyle
- Current population of under 1,000 mature individuals survive in 14 isolated subpopulations in protected areas
- Threatened by hunting for food and sport, and deforestation
- Populations have decreased 80% in 60 years
Severe habitat destruction has greatly reduced the northern muriquis’ range, forcing the monkeys into fragmented populations. Once-pristine tracts of forest have been razed for logging, agricultural use, cattle farming, and human development, leaving a devastating effect on the muriqui population.
Northern muriquis face another grave threat: humans hunt them, for both food (the monkey’s flesh is known as bushmeat) and for sport. Because of hunting—even when the monkeys reside within protected areas—two dozen populations have been lost to extirpation, or “local extinction.”
- Muriquis are wild monkeys that require a great deal of space to swing through trees. Their diet and environmental needs cannot be adequately met or replicated in human living conditions.
- To become pets, baby primates are stolen from their mothers. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
- When taken from the wild, their mothers are killed to capture the baby.
- Trade in Critically Endangered species is illegal.
- Primates are never domesticated. They always remain wild.
- Caged primates are very unhappy and frustrated. They are likely to resist confinement. They are quick and cause damaging bites and scratches. Some die as a result of their captivity.
- Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping primates and endangered species are pets.
- Muriquis belong with other muriquis in the Atlantic forests of Brazil. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.