Monkey Forest Tales: Why we are worried about fires?

First, we want to apologize for our inconsistency this year with our blog. Our workload as well as Covid had impacted us even more this year, so we will be posting every fortnight for now. In today’s post we are going to talk about fire and why we are so worried about its implications.

Past week and this one, we had heard some news in Colombia about the increase on fires in Orinoquia and Amazonian regions, including National Parks. In the Orinoquia region, this is the dry season and usually a time when most cattle ranchers use fire to open new pastures, a dangerous and traditional practice that seems to be increased in the past decade. This is aggravated by a land grabbing mafia that had increased in the deforestation arc of Orinoquia and Amazonian regions.

How is this affecting our monkey species? Zocay Project work with five species that are distributed on the deforestation arc of Orionoquia and Amazonian regions. With exception of red howler monkeys and black-capped capuchins which have a wider distribution, the other three species (dusky titi monkeys, Brumback night monkeys and Colombian squirrel monkeys) had restricted distributions mostly located in the Orinoquian deforestation arc.

Especially for dusky titi monkeys who lives mainly in Meta department, fires had become an increased threat, mainly because is affecting the only two National Parks in which you can found them, Tinigua and Macarena National Parks. Fires reported last and this week are located in those two parks which are having an extreme conversion from forest to pastures and have complicated social and security issues due to illegal crops and social unrest in those areas, combined with land grabbing mafias.

So, we see this fire problem as a major threat to all species in which we focus our work. Unfortunately, this means that at least for dusky titi monkeys their conservation status (how threatened they are to disappear) need to be reevaluated this year. As well as an urgency to work on the ground to continue its conservation in private lands such as the ones in which Zocay project is working currently.

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