There’s something particularly striking about the Northern Muriqui Monkey and it’s not just the animal’s beautiful long arms and legs or graceful way it swings through the treetops. It’s the way the individuals relate to one another: they are the most peaceful primates in the world, living in uniquely egalitarian societies where relationships between males and females are free of conflict, and instead full of hugs.
Unfortunately, the Northern Muriqui is one of the most critically endangered primates on Earth. Fewer than 1,000 individuals are left in only a dozen remaining fragments of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, considered one of the top five “hottest” hotspots for biodiversity. By the 1980s, less than 5 percent of southeastern Brazil’s Atlantic Forest remained intact. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the species as Critically Endangered in large part because of habitat loss.
Since 1983, the Muriqui Project of Caratinga, directed by Karen Strier, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been working with Brazilian students and colleagues in one of the last remaining strongholds for Northern Muriquis, a privately owned, federally protected reserve called RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala, near the Brazilian city of Caratinga. Her pioneering studies of the behavioral ecology, reproductive biology and life histories of muriquis have advanced our scientific understanding of primates and are contributing directly to the conservation and management of this critically endangered species and its habitat.
Today 350 individual muriquis live at RPPN-FMA—up from 50 in 1983—and make up one third of the entire species. These results from the Muriqui Project of Caratinga are encouraging, and now GWC is teaming up with Strier and the Brazilian NGOs based in Caratinga not only to continue to protect the muriqui population here, but also to expand these efforts to bolster the global population.
(Top photo by Pablo Fernicola, circular image by Carla Possamai)
Global Wildlife Conservation partners with the Muriqui Project of Caratinga and non-profit Preserve Muriqui to secure funding and resources not only for conservation of the Caratinga Muriqui population, but to protect the charismatic species as a whole across the country with Brazilian non-profit Muriqui Instituto de Biodiversidade and additional partners. Together our goals include to:
- Expand ongoing natural regeneration of the forest around the Caratinga reserve to increase the area of suitable habitat for the muriqui and establish connectivity with other forest fragments.
- Continue to preserve and manage all conservation, research and educational activities at the RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala.
- Insure the ecological and genetic diversity of the entire population of the species required for the Northern Muriqui to adapt in a rapidly changing world.
- Expand and manage the regeneration and restoration of Brazil’s larger Atlantic forest and the conservation, research, and educational activities it supports.
- Save the world’s most peaceful primate for perpetuity.
Northern Muriqui Monkey (Brachyteles hypoxanthus)
Semi-deciduous Atlantic Forest
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Muriqui Project of Caratinga, Preserve Muriqui, Muriqui Instituto de Biodiversidade