Current Projects

Proyecto Washu

Spider monkey projectMission: Proyecto Washu is an Ecuadorian organisation focused on brown-headed spider monkey conservation.  The organisation integrates research and conservation with the inclusion of communities that live in the study areas through three programmes; a research programme; environmental education programme and a community development programme

Species: Brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps fusciceps)

Location: Northwestern Manabì, Ecuador

Support started: 2017

Donating: £5,000 towards equipment and materials for population census research and environmental education sessions

Find out more about our work with project through our annual report: 


spider monkey project 3Background:  Proyecto Washu was created in 2011 as a result of the urgency and necessity to protect and rehabilitate the Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey, the most threatened species of primate in Ecuador and listed on the top 25 most endangered primates globally, and its natural habitat, the Ecuadorian Chocó. In 2006, PRIMENET conducted a series of investigations on the density and ecology of the brown-headed spider monkey in various regions of the Ecuadorian Chocó and found that the Tesoro Escondido Cooperative (Coop. TE), in the Esmeraldas Province, was located in an area critical to the survival of this species. The forests surrounding this area are also home to other endangered or nearly extinct species, such as the western Ecuadorian jaguar and the white-lipped peccary.

The Tesoro Escondido Cooperative brings together 50 families, mainly farmers, who own 3,000 ha of rainforest. This area is part of the Canandé Mountain Range and the remaining forests border private and state reserves (such as the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, the Pambilar Wildlife Refuge and the 10th Bloc of the Forest Heritage in the Eloy Alfaro Canton, Province of Esmeraldas).

This area is home to the last remaining forests of the Ecuadorian Chocó and, as a result, has succeeded in sheltering thousands of species that, otherwise, would have had nowhere to go. Sadly, poverty and social injustices are rife in the region. Most of the population relies upon the presence of logging or palm oil companies to find employment.

Proyecto Washu was created from this; seeking to create a comprehensive model that combines scientific research, environmental education and the development of economic alternatives associated with conservation through community development and strengthening to protect the most endangered primate in Ecuador and its habitat.

The goal of this project is to initiate focused participatory community conservation by studying brown-headed spider monkey populations in the region of Manabi, identifying priority conservation areas and empowering communities to conserve these priority forests.

Scientific research on the populations of the species in such a highly threatened landscape is required in order to give the appropriate data for conservation decisions in this area. Density population knowledge is basic information that will allow us to understand the status of the species in this area, local assistants not only will be field guides but also will learn the techniques and methodologies in line transect surveys and primate biology.

Simultaneously, the environmental educational sessions, which aim to work with the children and young people of the local communities, will improve their knowledge on local biodiversity and its threats by cultivating their understanding of the forest and the importance of its conservation, focusing on the survival of the brown-headed spider monkey.



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