Monkey Forest Tales: Monkey Forest Tales: Some positive things happening in cattle ranching areas

Over the last 17 years, Zocay Project had worked in private cattle ranching areas, this had allowed us to see the goods and the bads of this economic activity that is spread in Neotropical areas. Livestock ranching affect at least 59 % threatened monkeys in Latin America. However, over the years and depending on the particular landowner practices, there has been some positive changes too. In today’s post I want to focus on those positive changes that can improve biodiversity persistence in cattle ranching areas.

As I mentioned in other post (here), presence of living fences, small fragments (< 1 ha) and isolated trees help biodiversity in these areas by allowing them to move from one forest fragment to another and helping them to complement their diets. Trees present in living fences, isolated tree and small fragments usually have pioneer plant species that are food sources for birds and monkeys in the area.

Regenerating areas also provide new microhabitat for insects and spiders, as well as pioneer plants that became food for animals dispersing through the pasture matrix. All these areas previously mentioned are especially important during dry season, as temperatures rise, and water become scarce.

Over the past dry season, we implement a pilot project to evaluate wildlife use of water reservoirs for livestock in one of the farms where cattle ranching is the primary economic activity. Some pastures in this farm had living fences and isolated trees. But mostly the pastures are open. Farmers use water reservoirs, artificial and natural, to provide their livestock with water during the dry season. These reservoirs are located next to fences in forest fragment edges. Some are made of plastic (big plastic bins), and others are made of cement.

Monkeys like squirrel monkeys and other fauna (birds and mammals, especially), use these water reservoirs as a source of water, once the stream crossing the forest fragments dried during the dry season (December to March). Like what had been seen in Australia and other temperate areas where wild animals use human structures to access to water. In the study area water reservoirs for cattle can be used by native fauna.

So, if you are a farmer and you are concern about the wildlife fauna living in your property, additional to the use of living fences, you can also implement water reservoirs for your livestock close to forest fragments edge that not only will give additional benefits to your livestock by maintaining a cold water and giving some shadow while they drink, but also you will benefit the native fauna present in your property. Although small, it can have a huge impact during this changing times of climatic crisis.

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