Conservationists have released the first video of a critically endangered baby spider monkey being born in the wild: a brown-haired boy they named Anku.
The newborn spider monkey entered the world high in the Chocó jungle, a tropical forest along northwest Ecuador, on January 22 of this year.
The co-founders of the conservation group who obtained the historic video said Anku dangled dangerously about 50 feet off the ground during the first nail-biting moments of his life, hanging only by his umbilical cord.
The team feared the baby would fall to his death. “Thankfully it didn’t happen,” one said. “Incredible, in the end.”
Conservationists have released the first video of a critically endangered baby spider monkey being born in the wild, a brown-headed boy they named Anku. They said Anku dangled 50 feet above the ground during the first exciting moments of his life, just by his umbilical cord.
Eyewitnesses to the birth of an endangered spider monkey are rare, in part because the species typically gives birth to its young at night, according to conservationist Felipe Alfonso-Cortés, co-founder of the Washu Project group that released the tape.
In fact, Project Washu wildlife biologists had never seen a live spider monkey born before, despite having done so. studied the species in Ecuador for the last 10 years.
The brown-headed spider monkey is one of the 25 most endangered primates on planet Earth, according to the group.
Eyewitnesses to the birth of an endangered spider monkey are rare, in part, because the species typically gives birth to its young at night, according to conservationist Felipe Alfonso-Cortés (left), co-founder of the Washu Project group that published the rare tape.
The habitat of the monkey, according to Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of NatureIt extends from western Panama to the western border of Colombia and northwestern Ecuador.
But in all of these regions of Latin America, according to San Diego Zoo vice president of wildlife care Greg Vicino, these spider monkeys are being driven from their homes by human activity.
Spider monkeys are what are known as ‘boreal primates,’ Alfonso-Cortés said ABC Newswho was the first to broadcast the video, which means that they need a safe place high in the trees to survive.
“They don’t go down to the ground,” as the San Diego Zoo’s Vicino said.
“That’s where the jaguars are.”
Project Washu wildlife biologists have never seen a live spider monkey born before, despite having studied the species in Ecuador for the past 10 years. The brown-headed spider monkey is one of the 25 most endangered primates on planet Earth, the group said.
Alfonso-Cortés, a biologist and project coordinator for the Washu Project, noted that baby Anku’s birth was a bit surprising because his mother, Arawi (above), is estimated to be 25 years old, or “very old” for a spider monkey. Arawi also had not had a baby in the past eight years, he noted.
Both researchers believe that habitat loss, in the form of widespread deforestation for livestock grazing and extensive plantations of cash crops such as palm oil, is driving the species to extinction.
But other factors unique to the brown-headed spider monkey have exacerbated the problem, according to Alfonso-Cortés, particularly the primate’s long average lifespan and the long period it takes them to breed and raise their young.
A pregnant brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fuscíceps) typically needs more than seven months before giving birth, and once born, a young spider monkey may need care for up to four years.
And those long four years, the researcher said, are unlikely to involve another new pregnancy, which will delay efforts to increase the number of endangered monkeys.
It will often take at least that long until the next pregnancy occurs.
Another factor contributing to the decline in the spider monkey population is the species’ long lifespan, which means that older and younger monkeys fight for ever-shrinking space to live in the canopy of spider monkeys. the jungle.
Each brown-headed spider monkey can live approximately 15 to 20 years.
Spider monkeys are what are known as “boreal primates,” conservation biologists said, meaning they need a secure perch high in the jungle treetops to survive.
Another factor contributing to the spider monkey population decline is the species’ long lifespan, which means that older and younger monkeys fight for ever-shrinking space to live in the treetops of the jungle. Each brown-headed spider monkey can live approximately 15 to 20 years.
Alfonso-Cortés, a biologist and project coordinator for the Washu Project, noted that baby Anku’s birth was a bit surprising because his mother, Arawi, is estimated to be 25 years old, or “very old” for a spider monkey.
Arawi also had not had a baby in the past eight years, Alfonso-Cortés said.
Anku could potentially meet a young friend, according to Alfonso-Cortés’ co-founder and colleague Nathalia Fuentes: Another female spider monkey, Anna, gave birth last Saturday, but she has been much more camera shy.
“Local organizations like Project Washu are nothing less than essential to tackling some of the most difficult conservation issues of the day, from climate change to habitat restoration,” said JG Collomb, executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Network, which has associated with Project Washu. he told ABC News.
“The unlikely birth of Anku is a historic achievement for the brown-headed spider monkey, and highlights the power of community conservation,” Collomb said.
Community conservation efforts around the brown-headed spider monkey can be very culturally sensitive, according Vicino at the San Diego Zoo.
While illegal wildlife traders are a threat to these endangered spider monkeys that authorities can address, local indigenous communities can hunt and eat primates that have been a traditional part of their diet.
The balance, according to Vicino, will come from protecting and respecting both these critically endangered species and the way of life of the local population.
In other words, as he said: “How do we develop programs that allow people to live in these places and still make sustainable use of the resources that are there without depleting them?”