LOCATION: Urabá moist rainforest in northwest Colombia
SIZE: 5,691 acres
KEY SPECIES: Cotton-top Tamarin, Colombian Spider Monkey, Jaguar, Lowland Tapir, Baudo Oropendula
HABITAT: Moist Rainforest
THREATS: Habitat destruction for cattle ranching, hunting
ACTION: Purchase 4,218 acres to protect cotton-top and buffer 132,400 more critical acres
LOCAL PARTNERS: Fundación ProAves
FINANCIAL NEED: $444,000 for land purchase
The iconic Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) and the Colombian Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps) are two of the rarest primates in the Americas and they both depend on luxuriant lowland rainforests in northwest Colombia.
Sadly, rampant deforestation and gold mining across their tiny range threaten their very survival. It is estimated that 95% of their rainforest has been lost, and what little remains is at server risk and unprotected.
Buying and saving the last core area of 5,691 acres of rainforest at $100/acre not only saves these primates and many other endangered species, but strategically blocks access to over 100,000 acres of uninhabited rainforest at risk of being colonized--that we can help save.
Field explorations by our Colombian partner have spent two years searching for both primates and several rare bird species. In recent months, they discovered the last intact area of rainforest containing stronghold populations of both primates and many other endangered species.
This spectacular rainforest area with emerald green rivers totals just over 100,000 acres and represents the last intact remnant of unique “Urabá rainforest.” The importance of this little known forest type is because it is situated at the crossroads of four major Ecoregions--the Chocó rainforests to the west, Caribbean coastal dry forests to the east, Central American-Darién moist rainforest to the north, and to the south huddled against Andean cloud forests.
This melting pot of biodiversity from four distinctive ecological zones of Central and South America have produced a rare and unique assemblage of flora and fauna--much of which is undescribed. In fact much of this original rainforest habitat was destroyed long ago when some of the earliest banana plantations and cattle ranches in South America were established here.
While much of the 100,000 acres of rainforest wilderness has no human inhabitants and presently is largely inaccessible, miners and loggers are clearing forests on the northern flank of this wilderness to gain access to the area’s fragile natural resources. The most vulnerable area are four private properties totaling 4,218 acres that are owned by colonists intent on destroying the very forests these two primates depend on. Furthermore, they lie at the gateway to the 100,000 acre wilderness whereby rapid deforestation could pave a way into the heart of this area.
WLT-US and our Colombian partner, Fundación ProAves, have negotiated those private lands and are seeking to strategically acquire all four contiguous properties, which total 4,218 acres of rainforest at $100/acre.
Gifts to this project were matched dollar for dollar, through December 31, 2012, thanks to the generosity of Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach in Seattle.
Habitat destruction is the main threat to both the Cotton-top Tamarin and the Colombian Spider Monkey. They are estimated to have lost over 80% of potential habitat, with 30% of that lost in just the past decade. What remains is entirely at risk and unprotected. While the population estimate for the Spider Monkey is between 70-100 individuals, it is known to be heavily hunted (local people believe it helps cure malaria) and remains extremely rare and little known. There is no known population that is effectively protected in Colombia.
The only effective protected area for the Cotton-top Tamarin is the 865-acre Hacienda El Ceibal near Cartagena, managed by Proyecto Titi (PT). Current wild population estimates, according to a study conducted by the scientists of PT, for the tamarin are 2,000 mature individuals with a sharply decreasing population. The findings of the study prompted reclassification of the Cotton-tops to Critically Endangered and they were also listed on the 2008-2010 list of the world’s 25 most endangered primates. Therefore, efforts to secure their remaining habitat is of the utmost conservation importance.
Map of the Project Area
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