A type of titi monkey was first spotted in 1960s, but political unrest pervaded in the southern Caquetá Province hampering any further attempts at exploration. It was not until 2008, following an expedition led by Thomas Defler , that the existence of the new species was confirmed – a bearded monkey, now known as the Caquetá titi – in the remote Amazon. It was promptly described.
These mysterious monkeys purr like domestic cats, and, oddly enough, are more or less the same size. They are stocky and strong, with powerful hind legs which allow them to leap incredible distances through the trees. Their coats are brown on top and reddish-chestnut underneath. They also sport a matching reddish-chestnut beard with a contrasting long, thick, pale-coloured tail. In my opinion – and, it is only my opinion – facially, they are not the prettiest of primates; but when it comes to friendship, love and care, they are phenomenally sweet.
As is typical of the titi monkeys, they mate for life. They have been observed atop of branches holding hands with their tails romantically intertwined. And, of course, they lovingly groom each other. They produce one baby a year, and although the mothers are responsible for nursing, the fathers tend to do all the other work. Clearly, a few lessons to be learned here! Once the babies have been weaned, they will continue to stay within the family group until their second year, when they will go their own way in search of a mate. No member of the group is ever forced out and in times of danger they all stick together.
Thomas Defler is a primatologist at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá
Dense tropical low forests with broadleaved trees and shrubs, surrounded by low swampy pastureland.
Southern Caquetá, Colombia (close to the borders of Peru and Ecuador).
What they eat
Principally; fruit, flowers, leaves, insects and small vertebrates
Agriculture is fragmenting their habitat at an alarming rate and confining them to certain areas by the use of barbed wire and grazed savannah. This makes it very difficult, and dangerous, for them to move to new feeding grounds. Often the land is used for cattle farming and drug cultivation. What is left is degraded, and the Caquetá titi are left there to survive in small isolated groups. This is an ongoing situation. They are also, sadly, hunted for food.
Status: Critically Endangered
The region is known for its guerilla activity, making it sometimes difficult for conservationists to enter and observe, so numbers have been difficult to ascertain. It is believed that less than 250 Caquetá titi still exist and that the species is now on the verge of extinction. It is currently classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List because of “a suspected population decline”.
“If civilization is to survive, it must live on the interest, not the capital, of nature.”
Newly discovered, but nearly extinct species