Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about our new monitoring of Colombian squirrel monkeys in Villavicencio city

Over the last four months in which we were unable to follow monkeys because of the national lockdown caused by COVID-19, we have been monitoring a couple of Colombian squirrel monkeys in the forest remnants of Villavicencio city.
This monitoring is different from the one we made in San Martin area as we only have some sighting points to monitor the monkeys use of the forest instead of a systematic survey of complete forest fragments such as the ones in San Martin area.
However, our observations had allowed us to observe not only multi-male and multi-female groups but also bachelor groups (groups formed by only adult and subadult males) using the same forest area. Some babies from this year had been observed in three groups in different points of the city. Also, we had observed the monkeys eating some fruits that we didn’t observe them eating in San Martín.
It is still unclear how big is the territories of the groups we had identified. At least in one area we know they use electric lines to crossroads instead of going to the ground. However, the electrocution risk is high, and some fatalities has been reported by local people in those areas.
Some of the challenges to monitoring these groups is the insecurity to access the forest as well as the risk to be rob at the observation points at certain hours. Now that we have more freedom to move inside the city and the country a more intense monitoring of these groups of Colombian squirrel monkeys will start.
We had identified at least two points in which the groups are feed with banana, papaya and watermelon and a student will start monitoring one of these groups. A new campaign to reduce monkeys feeding points and behavior will also be started in the next month in those feeding points. Stay tuned for more advances on these new activities.


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Monkey Forest Tales: Some observations about birds in the study area

San Camilo- San Diego - San Marcos 068

I have been thinking for a while to write about some of my not specialized observations of birds in the area. In today’s post, I will share some of the patterns observed over the years for this most colorful animals. I have to admit that I’m an amateur in terms of birds, I know the basic from my studies in biology, but it wasn’t until I live in a place where most mammals where nocturnal that I developed an interest and enjoy observing birds during my daily walks, despite the good efforts of some of my ornithologist friends in previous years.

Probably the biggest pattern that I have observed in recent years in the study area is the return of individuals of Spix’s guan to some of the forests where they inhabit in the past but were gone for several decades, although still present in the region. A sighting I never will be tired to see is the return to the gallery forest of the scarlet ibis, mostly seen near to the small pond of water that survives the dry season in the forest fragments of the study area.

The whole region is rich in water, natural and artificial lakes, morichales (palm swamps composed mainly of Mauritia flexuosa palms), and small streams and rivers. During the rainy season is common to see the white-faced whistling duck in natural and artificial lakes.

SM Junio-Julio 2013 152

Walking in the forest always brings surprises such as blue-crowned motmot singing alone near to the ground. The usual lek of the white-bearded manakin, close to the forest edges in the lower parts of the forest, where a group of male’s dances in a coordinated way to attract the females. Deep in the biggest forest of the study area, we also can see Wire-tailed manakin leks in the lower branches Or the surprising and cryptic sunbittern in the lower branches of big trees over the stream.

Some years ago, it was also possible to see a couple of Jabirus in the big natural lake of the area, but we haven’t heard any reports in recent years in the area. The pastures and living fences are full of other species more tolerant to open spaces like Caracara cheriway, yellow-headed caracara, or the incredible fork-tailed flycatcher with his long tail balancing on a wire fence.

Birds in the study area are threatened by the same processes as monkeys, deforestation, and fragmentation. Protecting one group is also protecting the other, so let’s protect the forest so we can continue enjoying birds and monkeys for many years to come.

Unamas - SR Enero 2012 465

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Monkey Forest Tales: Life from the perspective of a Brumback night monkey baby, first 6 months

Aotus brumbacki (Colombian Llanos)Family
Brumback’s owl monkey (mono nocturno; Aotus brumbacki)

In today’s post, I am going to explore how is the life of a small baby monkey of a Brumback night monkey…

I’m what humans called a Brumback night monkey, a small monkey with big eyes, and almost no nose living in a forest of Colombia. My life started a calm and warm night at the end of the dry season. My mom was in our nest, hiding in a tall tree with lots of vines around us, it was a bit dark when I get out. My mom takes me from the middle of her legs and cleans me with her tongue. Once I was clean she put me in father’s back close to his neck, where I can hang very tight to his fur and put my tail around his arm. I’m very small and my father’s fur hides me because my tiny body is always very close to my dad’s neck.

In the first weeks of my life, I spend them on my father’s neck and only got o my mom when she feeds me. My dad takes care of me, cleans my fur, keeps me warm, and takes me with him, everywhere. My mom came close and sleep close to us every night. Some nights we sleep in the tall tree nest where I was born, but other times we sleep in a dead hollow palm or a huge fig tree with a couple of deep holes that keep us warm during the day. We mostly move at night, I discover that is why we have those big eyes, that way see at night and find our ways around the forest eating insects and fruits. My mom also cleans my fur and give me my milk every time I ask her. My days and nights pass as I drink milk from my mom’s armpit and sleep in my dad’s back most of the time. There are no other babies in the group, but I have a sister that sometimes cleans my fur and plays with me when our parent is resting…

Two months had passed since I was born and now I move around in my dad’s back when he is not moving, sometimes I even explore a bit farther when he is resting, walking, and jumping in the nearby branches. I usually play with my sister. We jump, run, and bite each other.

I had four months now, I still move on my dad’s back, but sometimes he starts moving ahead and I have to cry so he remembers that I’m still here and need to be carried by him. Sometimes I can also climb in my sister back. I started to try some of the fruits my dad is eating, I like to bite everything but it doesn’t always taste nice. Most of the time I spend exploring and playing with my sister. My mom still gives me milk from time to time. My legs are skinny and not always strong enough to carry me. I’m clumsy…

Now I have six months, I move alone except in some places where the branches are so apart from that I’m scared to jump. My dad helps me in those places, he let me climb on her back and I cross with him, but then he always wants me to go alone again and we fight, he bites me. Some nights my parents and sister let me in some dense branches where I can stay hiding while they move to eat in a nearby tree. I don’t like it much and start calling for them when this happens. I eat on my own now, but some times I also drink milk from my mom. I eat almost everything I can catch and sometimes steal some insects and fruits from my dad’s hand. Most of the time I’m playing, jumping, and running with my sister. I’m a healthy six-month baby of Brumback’s night monkey.

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Monkey Forest Tales: Celebrating International Primate Day!

This week on September 1rst, we celebrate International Primate Day! It’s a day to bring attention to this wonderful and diverse group of mammals whose members are the closest related to us, as we are also primates.

It is also a day to draw attention to the problems that are affecting most primate populations around the world. The main threats to this diverse group are mainly caused by human activities with deforestation and fragmentation caused by cattle ranching, agriculture at different scales (from small crops to large plantations), infrastructure projects, and mining. The additional threat that is exacerbated by deforestation and fragmentation of primate habitat is hunting and illegal pet trade.

Primates include all mammals that we commonly called lemurs, loris, monkeys, apes, and humans. It is a diverse group with a wide range of locomotion skills, diet, social organizations, reproductive strategies, habitat requirements, adaptations, and morphological features, including very colorful animals as well as a wide range of sizes. The smallest primate is a prosimian, Berthe’s mouse lemur, who lives in Madagascar and weighs no more than 30.6 grams. And the biggest primate is the Gorilla, living in Africa, with a weight of 140 – 250 kg, for males that are bigger than females.

In the study area, as we mentioned multiple times, we have five species of primates. The largest monkey in the study area is the red howler monkeys and the smallest is the Colombian squirrel monkey. They showed a wide diversity of habits with four diurnal species (red howlers, black-capped capuchins, dusky titi, and the Colombian squirrel monkeys) and one nocturnal species (Brumback’s night monkey). They also have a variety of diet from the most folivorous species like red howler monkeys and a more insectivorous-frugivorous species like the Colombian squirrel monkeys and a more omnivorous species like black-capped capuchins.

There is also a wide diversity of social structures exhibited by the monkeys in the study areas with monogamous species like dusky titi and Brumack’s night monkeys as well as multimale and multifemale groups like red howler, Colombian squirrel monkeys, and black-capped capuchins.

At the study area, deforestation and fragmentation had been shaping the ecology and movements of the monkey’s species inside and between forest fragment, as well as the use of wire and living fences, isolated trees, palm oil plantations, and pastures depending on their skills and tolerance to human activities around them.

Let’s celebrate International Primate Day by raising awareness of the diversity of this great group of animals and protecting the forest in which they inhabit. We also can do something by minding the things we buy and from where they proceed

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