Nov 12

Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC) is a great example of how a small but dedicated group of people can have a big impact, and the organisation has to be one of my favourite ARKive media donors. With a mission to protect the monkeys of Central and South America, NPC carries out research and education projects primarily in Peruvian cloud forest. Primates in this habitat are facing serious threats brought on by commercial interests such as mining, logging and cattle ranching; each putting ever more pressure on the remaining habitat.

Noga Shanee, co-founder of the organisation, first started sending images to ARKive in 2008, and we now display a fantastic collection of threatened animal photographs from her. Among these is the Critically Endangered Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey, a key species which NPC is working to save.

Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey

Peruvian yellow-tailed woolly monkey

Operating in such a biodiverse region of the world, it’s not just monkeys that NPC deals with. In January of this year, Noga, along with birder Shachar Alterman, stumbled upon something very unique; a species so elusive that it had been seen in the wild on just three previous occasions – a thriving colony of long-whiskered owlets, right within NPC’s primary research area of La Esperanza.

Long-whiskered owlet

Long-whiskered owlet

Considered to be the ‘holy grail’ of South American birding, the discovery has spurred on visits from bird enthusiasts around the globe, hoping to catch a glimpse of this ‘lifer’ (as twitchers would say).

The increase in ecotourism has benefited the local economy, helping to ease pressure on forest habitat by reducing the need to clear trees for cattle and timber. As if that wasn’t enough, Neotropical Birding Tours will be supporting NPC’s reforestation projects by making a donation for every visitor who takes part in their new owlet trips.

By carrying out its important work, NPC is making a real difference in this ecosystem. The discovery of a single threatened bird species has helped to make forest preservation more valuable than the destructive activities which threaten it. Of course, the best part is that in sharing habitat with the owlets (and by suffering many of the same threats), countless other species will benefit; yellow-tailed woolly monkeys included.

For more information on Neotropical Primate Conservation, see: http://www.neoprimate.org/

Rob Morgan, ARKive Media Researcher

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