Wildlife: Meet the bald headed Monkey,strange and ranges only in the Amazonian Basin - Global Quest Magazine


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Wildlife: Meet the bald headed Monkey,strange and ranges only in the Amazonian Basin

The bald uakari (Cacajao calvus) or bald-headed uakari is a small New World monkey characterized by a very short tail; bright, crimson face; a bald head; and long coat. The bald uakari is restricted to várzea forests and other wooded habitats near water in the western Amazon of Brazil and Peru.

There are four recognized subspecies of the bald uakari, each of which is considered vulnerable to extinction:

White bald-headed uakari, Cacajao calvus calvus

Ucayali bald-headed uakari, Cacajao calvus ucayalii

Red bald-headed uakari, Cacajao calvus rubicundus

Novae's bald-headed uakari, Cacajao calvus novaesi

Due to the uakari's location, it is extremely common for these animals to contract malaria. Primates who have contracted the disease are noticeably paler and are not chosen as sexual partners as they do not have the desired natural immunity to malaria.

The conservation status of this species was changed from near threatened to vulnerable in the 2008 World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List because the species has declined at least 30% over the past 30 years (three generations) due to hunting and habitat loss. This is considerably better than the 1994 assessment which found it to be endangered, followed by the 2003 assessment which found the species to be near threatened. Although the conservation status has improved, actual population numbers are on a decreasing trend. Since it only lives in white water flooded forests, it is very susceptible to human impact (i.e. land acquisition for agriculture and/or pastures).

Forest loss and hunting are the two most prominent threats to the bald uakari. Between 1980 and 1990 it was found that an average of 15.4 million hectares of tropical forests were destroyed each year and the Neotropics are facing forest loss in areas such as the southern and eastern parts of the Amazonia. In 1997, the Amazon Basin experienced the highest rate of forest destruction of the remaining tropical rainforests worldwide. Logging of hardwoods is a major contributor to overall destruction as large-scale logging disrupts the continuity of forest canopies. Canopy disruption and forest loss directly affect uakaris because of their arboreal lifestyle and adaptations for seed food consumption. Additionally, Cacajao calvus populations are located so close to the Amazon River that there is a higher risk of human hunting from canoes and such to use the primates as a food source or bait.

In 1999, the Pilot Program to Conserve the Brazilian Rainforest, set forth by the World Bank, aimed to place a total of 350 million dollars from Germany, Britain, and other major industrialized communities into conservation programs for the Amazon. Conservation efforts have also been initiated by Wildlife Conservation Society representatives working in South America. The Amazon-Andes Conservation Program (AACP) was established in 2003 in order to protect a set of seven landscapes in the Amazon. These protected landscapes account for approximately three percent of the Amazon Basin. The Wildlife Conservation Society is planning on expanding to more landscapes in the near future. Along with the AACP, Brazil's national environment agency, the Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA) is gaining help from the army to patrol the Amazon for acts of illegal logging, mining, and deforestation.


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