Monkeys without forest

The Central American Squirrel monkey can only be found in a small strip of land following the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama, where it inhabitates lowland rainforest only. Between 1952 and 1962 Squirrel monkeys were captured for commercial purposes and most of them were sold to laboratories in the United States. When the population collapsed, this business was not worthwhile any more. Today the species is threatened because of the ongoing loss of adequate rain forest.

Since 1970 the Saimiri is protected. In Panama however only 3% of the forest areas where the animals used to live are left. The remaining rain forest consists of very small patches only, so in many parts of the former distribution areas the species has vanished. Two bigger protected areas where Squirrel monkeys can be found exist only in Costa Rica.

A relocation of the groups from downgraded areas to more appropriate habitats seems impossible. Also the reintroduction with trained individuals that were kept for breeding did not work. So it was recommended to leave the animals in their present environment and to improve the areas by reforestation and a richer supply of food. (Boinski et al 1998, Fahrig & Merriam 1994).



Presently in Panama there are only a few intact groups living in downgraded forests. Food shortages and stress caused by too many disturbances have stopped the reproduction and may soon lead to a total extinct of the groups.

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