Amazon Monkey Tails: Endangered Uakaris Unlike Any Others

May 22, 2012
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You will see many different species of monkeys on International Expeditions’ Amazon River cruises, but few compare to the uakari. This endangered animal stands out from the crowd with distinct features including a red face, short tail and bald head. IUCN Redlist classifies all three subspecies of the uakari as vulnerable, just one step away from being endangered. When the animals become excited, their faces flush. This may be a tactic for attracting mates, as pale skin is often a sign a uakari monkey is sick. There are likely other reasons for the trait, as these monkeys only breed every two years. They give birth to one baby at a time, which is why the populations cannot grow quickly. This, combined with deforestation and hunting, pushes these monkeys closer and closer to extinction every day.

Uakaris live in troops that number over 100 monkeys and these large groups sleep together in the tree branches high above the forest floor. During the day, they divide into smaller groups to find food. For the most part, they feed on the fruits they find growing in the trees, but they also eat leaves, insects and nuts, as well as seeds and roots they find on the ground during dry seasons. Uakaris have exceptionally strong jaws that allow them to crack into the tough shells of Brazil nuts and similar foods.

These monkeys are extremely social and constantly calling to one another with a series of sharp, short sounds. Unlike other monkey groups, uakari troops are not led by one alpha male but a group of ruling males. This ruling group wards off bachelor monkeys that come too close to the females and their young. Bachelors are not completely isolated from the group, but they tend to keep their distance from the core group to avoid confrontation with the ruling males.

Aside from their distinct red faces, uakaris are also easily distinguishable from other primates because of their odd tails. Their tails are short, only about 6 to 8 inches in length, compared to their bodies, which tend to be between 14 and 22 inches long. They are thick and covered with fur, unlike the faces and crowns of these creatures. The red faces are bare, and there is very little fur atop the heads of these monkeys.


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