CEPA - Buffy-headed capuchin project
Mission: To collect information on the ecological and behavioural needs of buffy-headed capuchins. This will then be used to provide a strong bases for the development of conservation strategies to avoid this species’ extinction.
Species: Buffy headed capuchin
Location: Atlantic forest, Brazil
Support started: 2001
Amount donated: £1,000 annually
No donations made for 2011 or 2012 due to project not requesting funds as writing up their current research. Project is due to be back and running in 2013.
Background: The buffy-headed capuchin is also known as the yellow-breasted capuchin and is endemic to Brazil. It originally inhabited an area of forest in Brazil larger than 100km wide. Due to extensive cattle ranching over the years, this species is now limited to forests in Southern Bahia, where the population is still declining due to threats of habitat destruction and the pet trade.
CEPA is now in its 7th year working in the Southern Bahia state. It is essential to know the ecological needs of these capuchins in order to successfully manage the species in the wild. In 2003, CEPA initiated ecological and behavioural surveys of this species. Research enables the identification of environmental disturbances that threaten the species’ survival. The results will help scientists to choose priority areas to concentrate conservation efforts and attend to urgent demands of remaining populations.
The ecology and behaviour study is conducted in three different areas. The Una Biological Reserve is mostly covered by preserved forest and is protected against hunting, Private Reserve Capitão is covered by logged forest and was only recently protected so hunting still occurs in the surrounding area, and the third area, Plantações Michelin da Bahia, is protected by its owner, is connected to other large forest patches and is surrounded by rubber plantation.
Achievements: During the first year of study (2003-2004) CEPA developed activities mainly in Una Biological Reserve. In 2004-2005, they started to work in Capitão Private Reserve and in August 2007 started fieldwork in Plantações Michelin da Bahia. Habituation commenced at the Una Reserve, with individuals seen only 188 times in two years. At Una they have been following 27 capuchins since November 2003 as one group, but in September 2008 this group split into 2 sub groups. The project now continues to collect data on each group, but can only follow one group at a time. At Capitão, 10 individuals have been monitored since September 2005, and at Michelin the project has followed a group of 17 since August 2007. Capuchins at Una and Michelin have been habituated to the observer’s presence. However, at Capitão it is impossible to habituate the monkeys as they are extremely afraid of humans, due to the recent hunting and logging in that area. CEPA now have 5 years of data collected from Capitão and 3 years in Michelin. This data will now be used to gather a better understanding of how the animal behaves in different environments, and findings can be compared to animals living in Una.
Future objectives: After ten years of efforts by the project and its staff, which has allowed for a much better understanding of the ecology and the conservation status of the yellow-breasted capuchin monkey, research staff will take a short pause. This will allow them to evaluate which are the best actions to organize in the next years for this species long term conservation.
Sub-adult Buffy-headed capuchin © CEPA
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