Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Who are they?

Credit: Marc van Roosmalen
Black spider monkeys, or scientifically known as Ateles paniscus, have long, glossy black hair covering their entire bodies except for their faces. Their long hair and red or pink-skinned faces, which are bare except for a very few short white hairs, immediately distinguishes them from other species of spider monkeys. They are generally 16 to 24 inches tall and weigh between 15 and 19 pounds. Their life span is approximately 33 years. Black spider monkeys are found in moist tropical evergreen forests and prefer undisturbed rainforests.

Credit: Bone Clones
The black spider monkey is one of seven spider monkey species found in Latin America and are one of the largest primate species in South America. Spider monkeys in general are among the largest of the New World monkeys. They are called "spider" monkeys because of their long arms, legs, and tail.

Why are they endangered? How does this affect us?

This species prefers mature tropical forests and will seldom venture into disturbed habitats. With the rate of deforestation and destruction of tropical rainforests, the black spider monkeys are losing their habitats. In addition, spider monkeys are heavily hunted because of their large size and because of their rather slow breeding (a female generally only has one offspring every 4 years), they are unable to keep their numbers up. They are considered the first of the primates to suffer from hunting pressure and logging and other forms of degradation of the tropical forests where they live.
Credit: Nick Gordon
The black spider monkey play an essential role in the tropical rainforest ecosystem. They disperse seeds, which allow their environment to continue to grow even with the damage that humans are causing. As we continue to ruin so many species' habitats by deforestation, this species is working to rebuild it.
Black spider monkeys are important seed dispersers for various tree species.
Black spider monkeys are important seed dispersers for various tree species.

What efforts are being made to save them?

One of the best ways to help conserve this species is to create protected areas for them. A list of protected areas are:
Tumucumaque National Park (3,882,376 ha)
Cabo Orange National Park (630,017 ha)
Lago Piratuba Biological Reserve (394,223 ha)
Rio Trombetas Biological Reserve (409,578 ha)
Uatumã Biological Reserve (942,786 ha)
Anavilhanas Ecological Station (343,897 ha)
Jari Ecolopical Station (207,370 ha)
Niquia Ecological Station (282,803 ha)
Nhamundá State Park (28,370 ha)
Monte Alegre State Park (5,800 ha)
Rio Negro Setor Sul State Park (257,422 ha)
Maicuru State Biological Reserve (1,509,300 ha)
Grão Pará State Ecological Station (4,250,000 ha)

French Guiana
Parc amazonien de Guyane (3,300,000 ha)
Nouragues Natural Reserve (100,000 ha)
Kaw Reserved Area (76,800 ha)

Kaietur National Park (11,655 ha)
Iwokrama Forest Reserve (364,000 ha)

Brinckheuvel Nature Reserve (6,000 ha)
Central Suriname Nature Reserve (1,600,000 ha)
Sipaliwini Nature Reserve (100,000 ha)
Brownsberg Nature Park (8,400 ha)

The World Wildlife Fund is also working to combat the destruction of their habitat by protecting the forests and promoting responsible forest management with the help of the Forest Stewardship Council.

What can you do?

Credit: Diana Liz Duque Sandoval
Take Action! They are losing their habitat due to deforestation, so cut down on the amount of paper products that you buy and use. If you have to purchase paper products, purchase those that are made from recycled products. Support brands that have a zero deforestation policy.
Educate your friends, family, and community about how these actions can impact forests and thousands of species.
Stay Informed! Sign up to receive newsletters from organizations such as the WWF and National Geographic. These can keep you up to date on not only the black spider monkeys but also other endangered species.
Donate! Many conservation organizations have limited funds, especially since governments do not always give large quantities of their tax dollars to them. Set a goal of how much you want to donate yearly and stick to it. Never think that your contribution is useless. Every little bit helps.


"Ateles Paniscus." IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
"Black Spider Monkey." World Wildlife Fund. World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
Kanter, Tessah. "Ateles Paniscus." Animal Diversity Web. Regents of the University of Michigan, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.