“If civilization is to survive, it must live on the interest, not the capital, of nature”
Endemic to Brazil, the Ka’apor Capuchin (Cebus kaapori) is a recently discovered member of the Cebidae family of monkeys. Targeted by hunters and having suffered from devastating habitat loss, the species has become one of the most threatened primates in the largest rainforest on Earth; living in a region with the highest level of deforestation and habitat degradation in the entire Brazilian Amazon. There are now very few Ka’apors left in the wild.
Capuchin monkeys are among the most recognisable types of monkey on the planet. These irrepressible and highly intelligent little primates have been trapped and captured for centuries, and used for man’s entertainment and amusement by organ grinders and exotic pet seekers. Consequently, there are more Capuchin monkeys in captivity in the world than any other species. For most, this means a life of isolation, anguish and gloom, and often they do not live long. But, some are lucky, and happy Capuchins are known to be very talkative, incurably curious, highly intelligent and extremely mischievous. Ka’apor Capuchins are also hunted mercilessly for bush-meat.
The Ka’apor species lacks the tuft of hair on its head which most others Capuchins have. They have semi-prehensile tails, short fingers and opposable thumbs. They also possess perfectly adapted large, square premolars with dense enamel to aid nut-cracking. Brown-tufted Capuchins have been observed using tools for this purpose. Having developed an anvil system, they were able to crack open hard-shelled nuts using large rocks. Aside from man and the apes, the Capuchins are the only other primates known to do this.
Adult coats of the Ka’apor are grey to reddish-brown on the back and outer limbs. Heads and shoulders are creamy-white to silver-grey, with a black triangular cap on the head, and faces are bare and pink in colour, as are the ears. Hands and feet are blackish. The species is sexually dimorphic and weighs an average of six and a half pounds. Adult Capuchins stand almost eighteen inches tall and have a tail which is roughly twenty inches long.
Ka’apor Capuchin monkeys are both arboreal and quadrupedal. They can be found in the lower mid-canopy and the understorey, which they move through in on all fours using their semi-prehensile tails whilst feeding.
Communication within the species is wide and varied. Capuchins use a whole range of vocal, olfactory and visual communications within their troops. Social grooming is used as a form of bonding.
Ka’apors are polygamous and occur in groups of up to fifteen individuals. The breeding season ranges from October to February, followed by an average gestation period of one hundred and sixty days. Females usually give birth to one baby, rarely twins, and will only birth every two to four seasons. Infants cling to the mother’s back for the first three months. By six months, they are becoming more independent and taking solids, and will soon be fully weaned.
The Ka’apor Capuchin was only recently elevated to species status. It had been formerly classified as a sub-species of the wedge-capped Capuchin.
The Ka’apor Capuchin monkey is named after the Urubu-Ka’apor Indians, who live in the region where the monkey was first discovered.
The Ka’apor Capuchin, as with other species of Capuchin, is widely used in laboratory research.
Lowland Amazonian high forest
The Brazilian states of Pará and Maranhão.
What they eat
Fruits, seeds and arthropods, frogs, nestlings and even small mammals; supplemented by stems, flowers and leaves.
Habitat loss due to logging, forest clearance for cattle ranching, and industrial agriculture, and extensive hunting for food. The Guajá, or Awá, Indians in Maranhão, who hunt all primate species within their reserve (and, whose land and lives have also been destroyed by illegal logging) are known to keep orphaned Capuchin and other primates as pets. These small monkeys are also collected for the international illegal pet trade.
The Ka’apor capuchin (Cebus kaapori) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered. It is also protected under Cites Appendix 1 and listed on The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2012-2014. Ka’apors are located in the protected area of the Gurupi Biological Reserve in the State of Maranhão , which was created in 1988. More than half of the reserve’s forest has since been lost due to selective logging. This was particularly prejudicial to the species as trees which provided the fruit Ka’apors favoured, and which made up most of their diet, were lost. The IUCN has documented a drastic decline in numbers of at least 80% over the past three generations.
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