Amigos de los Monos

Tico Times Article of Friday, April 27, 2007

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An article in the Tico Times, Costa Rica's leading English-language newspaper told of the emergency facing all species of Costa Rica's monkeys due to deforestation and disease. A team of eighteen biologists from the University of Costa Rica, the National University, and the University of Medical Sciences studied the health and genetics of several populations. Gustavo Gutierrez, who coordinated the study, explained that loss of habitat forces monkeys into smaller and smaller areas, which reduces genetic vitality, including weak immune systems and higher susceptibility to disease. The condition of the spider monkey raised the highest concern because they are dependent on large unbroken tracts of primary forest. "Their future is in serious doubt — their numbers are falling fast," said biologist Ronald Sanchez. "The reality is, the habitat is disappearing, and so are the monkeys."

It was estimated that the population of spider monkeys was 26,000 in 1995, and has fallen to 7,225 in 2007 — a decline of 72 percent.

Dr. Gutierrez said that with their health weakened and forced into smaller and smaller tracts of land, a single stroke of bad luck could kill Costa Rica's entire population of spider monkeys.

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