Monkey Forest Tales: Celebrating International Primate Day!!!

This week in September 1srt, we celebrated International Primate Day, a day to raise awareness about these amazing, diverse and charismatic animals that help us to grow forest and protect water through their function as seed dispersers. In today’s post we highlight their function and remember what we have learned from the monkey species present in our study area.

Monkeys are important for forest conservation because they disperse seeds from all the fruits they consume, they are also important in controlling some herbivorous caterpillars. They consume a wide range of arthropods, including spiders, moths, grasshoppers, and other insects. They also transformed the microhabitats inside the forest by breaking branches and moving stones, branches, and dead leaves on the ground in search for arthropods to eat.

Over the years, during our work in Zocay Project we have also learned that they use not only the forest, but also the living fences, isolated trees and small fragments to move in the highly fragmented landscape in which they live, all five species in the study area used these structures with different frequencies. They even use pastures and wire fences to move between patches if they have to reach some fruit trees.

Recently, we also learned that during, strong and long dry seasons, they can also use the water reservoirs used by cattle ranchers to maintain water for their cattle when streams are completely dry. It is widely, known that monkeys can also exploit human crops when they don’t have fruits in the forest, causing strong conflicts with human populations living nearby.

But how can you protect them, is easier than you can imagine. Some small practices that you can implement if you are living close to wild monkeys are:

  • Preserve any natural habitat around your area, especially those around streams and water sources. FOREST MEANS LIFE
  • DO NOT FEED WILD MONKEYS!!, instead plant fruit trees in the areas you know they live
  • If you have a crop near to a forest fragment where you know there are primates. DO NOT PLANT YOUR CROP NEXT TO THE FOREST EDGE. Leave at least 50 meters between the forest edge and your crop, this will reduce your crop loss. Although you will probably need to implement additional strategies if some species live in the area.
  • Promote living fences that allows connectivity between forest fragments as well as isolated trees in pastures. This not only will give your livestock shadow but also allows monkeys and other native fauna to move between forest patches
  • Reduce speed in roads where forest cover will allow monkeys and other fauna to move. If you see a wild animal (monkey or other) crossing a road, STOP, DON’T KILL THEM
  • Enjoy wild animals in their natural habitat. DO NOT KEEP THEM AS PETS. They are not good pets; most species grow and became aggressive or develop repetitive behavior because of their isolations from other members of their species. They are social animals as we are.

If you have questions or want to know what to do to protect and conserve monkeys in your area. Please don’t hesitate to write at You can leave your questions in English, Spanish or Portuguese.

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