Creating new homes for the threatened cotton-tops in Colombia

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With a shock of hair like Einstein and sharing a scientific name with one of Greek mythologies’ most tragic characters, the little cotton-top tamarin surely has enough to contend with. Unfortunately, they’re also burdened with being classified as critically endangered. Similar in size to squirrels, these charismatic primates are found in the forests of Colombia. But these forests are being cut down at an alarming rate. Development and agriculture are fast encroaching on the tropical rainforests the tamarins call home. Less than 5% of their original range remains.

Cotton-top tamarins are very distinctive looking!

Fabio has been working with the local indigenous community to protect the tamarins

Luckily there’s help at hand. Fabio Cuelllo leads a team at the Fundacion Fuverde, who have made it their mission to help the cotton-tops in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria. With the support and help of the Arahuac indigenous community, which lives in the region, they have been mapping the forest that remains, where it’s been degraded and where the tamarins are live. The forest changes with the altitude, changing from tropical humid forest, lowland dry forest to paramo (high treeless plateaus).  The team has been working out which parts of the forest are preferred by the tamarins so they know where to establish more and where best to focus restoration efforts.

Regenerating forests to safeguard the futures of tamarins

Fabio’s team gathered data on the amount of deforestation that has occurred over the past twenty years, how much human activity there is in the area, how much natural forest remains and also how fragmented it is. They gave each category a range of scores and used these measures to select eight priority areas to work in. Increasing priority habitats and regenerating natural forests are very practical measures that will hopefully result in real benefits for the tamarins. So too will the fact that they are getting the habitat declared as a protected natural area, to safeguard it for the future. These measures will enable the tamarin populations that remain to have better protection, and hopefully to increase in number too.

Learn more about how we’re working with Fabio and his team to protect the cotton-top tamarin in Colombia:

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