Monday, February 6, 2012

New population of Critically Endangered monkey found in Colombia

One of the top 25 threatened primate species in the world
February 2012: The only confirmed population of an extremely rare sub-species of brown spider monkeys in a national protected area has been found in Selva de Florencia National Park in Colombia.
The brown spider monkey is one of the top 25 threatened primate species of the world. The species resides in two separate populations on either side of the Magdalena River in central Colombia partially within the Eje Cafetero landscape. Each population represents a different subspecies: A. hybridus hybridus living on one side of the river, A. h. brunneus on the other.
Although both subspecies are in danger of extinction, A. h. brunneus was most at risk because no national protected areas contained populations of this uniquely Colombian primate until now.
Maybe now the monkey population can grow in number‘This exciting discovery of brown spider monkeys in Selva de FlorencĂ­a National Park emphasises the importance of protected areas to safeguard wildlife – even for previously unknown species,' said Julie Kunen, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Director of Latin America and Caribbean programmes. ‘The fact that the species was found in a protected area gives conservationists hope that populations will be safeguarded and can perhaps even grow in number.'
When Selva de Florenica was created as a national park in 2005, the only known evidence of A. h. brunneus was a captive specimen living with colonists in the park. Subsequent studies were unable to record the species living in the area; therefore it was considered most likely locally extinct.
But in early November last year, a local farmer in the village of El Silencio reported the possible presence of the species, setting into motion a rapid exploration of the area by officers of the National Parks Unit and researchers from WCS. At least two individual brown spider monkeys were observed, making Selva de Florencia National Park the only national protected area that currently protects this subspecies.
Unfortunately, the park is in the southernmost area of the species' range, thus its population is even more vulnerable to extirpation. To ensure the continued conservation of the brown spider monkey in Colombia, next steps will be a rigorous evaluation of the population status of the species in this park and restoration of degraded habitat to provide connectivity with other northern populations currently being studied by WCS.

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