Monkey Forest Tales: Celebrating the wetlands, especially the Mauritia swamps in Colombian Llanos

On February 2nd, we celebrate Wetlands World Day!!! A day to rise awareness to wetland areas around the world. Colombian Llanos or Orinoquia region, an area of around 981.446 km2, in which 48% are wetlands, wetlands are threatened by some cattle ranching practices, infrastructure construction, urbanization in cities such as Villavicencio, and agriculture. Part of those wetlands are Mauritia flexuosa swamps (Morichales, in Spanish), that had been fragmented and in some case drought for cattle ranching. Some of those areas, however, still persist inside of cattle ranches and become one of the most interesting areas to connect gallery forest fragments.

One of our newest projects, started in August 2022 is focused on monitoring water sources used by livestock to get water in a highly fragmented landscape mainly of cattle ranching. This project monitors natural and artificial lagoons, artificial water reservoirs and Mauritia swamps using camera traps (This project is funded by Little Chalcraft Fund through Rewild). Our preliminary result had shown the use of these water sources during the transition period between rainy and dry season and will continue monitoring this area through the year.

Some of the amazing results we already found is the use of water reservoirs by red howler monkeys and Colombian squirrel monkeys during wet-dry transition period. But monkeys are not the only ones using these water sources, giant ant eaters, tamanduas, coatis, and crab-eating raccoons.

Mauritia swamps are important for primates not only as corridors but also as places to make nest for Brumback’s nigh monkeys, but also as a source of food. All species living in the study are had been seen over the years feeding on Mauritia flexuosa fruits and using those palms to search for arthropods during several hours of their feeding times. Therefore, its protection not only is important because of the value wetlands have to provide clean water but also because in the case of Mauritia swamps it also serve as an important food and habitat source for primates and other native fauna.  

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