Monkey Forest Tales: About people in the area: how this project has impacted people perceptions over time – Part 1

Unamas Enero 2011 074

In this post and the following posts, I will share the stories of two families and how this project had changed their perceptions of monkeys and fauna in general. The first story is about a mother and her daughter (names had changed to protect people in this story).

When I first arrived in 2004, I visit several farms around the one I was looking for monkeys. In one of those farms, I met Maria and her daughter Sonia. Maria didn’t like monkeys at all, especially black-capped capuchins. They used to go inside of her kitchen and steal food, especially chicken eggs. The house was just a couple of meters from the forest fragment and the capuchins crossed almost every single day. The farm also had extractive practices, selective logging on a small scale (just for the farm use and from time to time some big trees for sell). Hunting was allowed.

Maria’s daughter, Sonia, studied in the town but visit her mom from time to time and liked animals, she was 14 years when I first met her. Sonia started to go to the forest with me during her holidays and started to make a lot of questions about the monkeys, how they live and what they eat. She seems to enjoy going to the forest to observe the monkeys as well as the stories I tell her about the monkeys. She also enjoys birds and takes care of any wild animal that seems to be in trouble.

Over the years we all became close friends and I saw how Sonia became a mom of two. Although Sonia wasn’t able to study biology or anything related to animals, her concern and love for animals continue. A few months ago, I visit her again in her new home and I was surprised by how she had taught that same care and concern about nature to her own kids.

Maria’s behavior towards monkeys also changed over the years, although she now lives in town instead of on a farm, she always has some news to tell me about monkeys close to the town and she even joins me when I did some walks near to the town searching for monkeys. Her change had also led her to talk to her neighbors and husband about protecting animals in general and how that is beneficial for humans. Hearing her and Sonia gives me and this project motivation to continue. It’s not common that you can see how the love you have taught about animals pass from one generation to the next and how you really change people thinking through your work.

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