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Wildlife of the World

Every year more and more of our beloved wildlife falls victim to poaching and the wildlife trade. Together we can make a difference.

Please join me in learning more about the wonderful animals of the world. Education is the first step to ensure the survival of our wildlife. Every one of us has the ability to make a direct and positive impact on conservation efforts worldwide though utilizing our talents, education and generous donations to the many charitable organizations that work endlessly to ensure nature’s survival.

Spider Monkeys

There are 7 different species of spider monkeys. They have long coats that differ in colour depending on species. Their arms and legs are very slender and they have long fingers and toes and an absent thumb, these characteristics along with their prehensile tail and flexible joints, makes navigating through forests effortless for them. Their prehensile tail has numerous touch receptors, and they use it as an extra hand. Often, they are seen dangling from a branch with just their tail holding on, in doing this they resemble a spider hanging from its thread- hence their name.

Spider monkeys are found in tropical and semi-deciduous forests in Central and South America. They live in fission-fusion communities. Fission-Fusion is when the size and composition of the social group changes. For example, spider monkeys live in groups of up to 40 members, but whilst foraging for food the group will split into smaller groups (usually one male, one female and her offspring). By doing this competition for food within the group is diminished.

70% of their diet consists of fruit, they especially enjoy overripe fruit, occasionally it’s so ripe it has fermented and the monkeys become inebriated. Their diet also consists of leaves, seeds, flowers and occasionally small insects. A typical spider monkey will live up to 30 years old. Spider monkeys have a birth season but this varies for each species. They give birth to a single infant, when that infant becomes too large to carry, and there are big gaps in the canopy, the mother will make a bridge with her body for the infant to climb over.

Spider monkeys have a slow reproduction rate, because of this they struggle to recover if population numbers fall. Hunting impacts this species significantly and nearly every species is threatened. The Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey is currently listed as one of The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates due to heavy hunting and habitat loss. It is already extinct in several areas. The Geoffroy’s spider monkey also makes it on The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates list due to being heavily hunted for food and the pet-trade. The Rainforest Trust are working with Cambugán Foundation to establish a protected area in Tesoro Escondido. Where the largest remaining population of the Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey reside. Currently there is an estimated population size of 150 in this region and it is a conservation priority site.

Written by Emily Elmer – Wildlife Conservation Today Contributor

African Elephant

The African Elephant is the largest animal that walks the earth! They can weigh anywhere from 2.5 – 7 tons, they stand up to 13 feet tall and they are up to 24 feet in length. They have large ears that resemble the continent of Africa. Their ears play an important role — they radiate heat to help keep the elephant cool. 

The African Elephant is well known for their large, white ivory tusks. An elephant’s tusks are actually just large teeth that protrude out of their mouth. The elephant’s tusks are an asset to them. Elephants often eat tree bark and they use their tusks to strip the tree of its bark. They are also used as a defense mechanism. Additionally, the tusks help to protect the elephant’s large trunk. The trunk is used for many things including, eating, drinking and breathing, to name a few. 

African Elephants are often killed for their ivory tusks. The tusks are chopped off of the elephant, (in many instances while the elephant is still alive) and then sold to make trinkets. Both male and female African Elephants have tusks. Poaching has significantly impacted the number of African Elephants that remain. There is hope however as conservation efforts have led to a slow rise in the population. The endangered status of the African Elephant is now listed as vulnerable — meaning the population is increasing. This is very promising.  

An African Elephants’ diet consists of tree bark, leaves, branches, bushes, grass, roots and fruit. They can eat up to 300 pounds of food in a single day. African Elephants have female led groups. The matriarch of the group is usually the largest and oldest female. African Elephants can live up to 70 years of age. The gestation period of an African Elephant is nearly 22 months.

There are many conservation organizations that are dedicated to saving this species from extinction. By joining one of these organizations you too can help save the African Elephant along with many other endangered species.

  • African Wildlife Foundation
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • International Elephant Foundation

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/african-elephant

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/a/african-elephant/

Howler Monkeys

The howler monkey belongs to the Genus Alouatta and there are 15 known species. They are among the largest of the New World monkeys. Depending on the species, they have either a black or brown coarse coat. They have a prehensile (capable of grasping) tail, which they use as an anchor when sleeping, as well as to aid in traversing through the forest. Their enlarged throats allow them to emit their loud distinctive calls, that can travel up to 5 km.

These monkeys are native to a variety of forests in Central and South America. Home ranges can vary greatly depending on habitat type. Group ranges will often overlap, but they use their “long calls” to keep their distance. This call is the loudest sound made by a land animal and serves to avoid aggressive encounters with other troops. Avoiding these encounters helps conserve energy, which is important for a howler monkey, as its diet mostly consists of leaves (a poor energy source). A howler monkey will spend 80% of the day at rest.

Groups of howler monkeys comprise of one alpha male, few other males and then several females and rarely exceeds 15 members. At 3-5 years old females often leave their birth troop to form their own. Whereas males often fight their way into other groups at a slightly later age. Mantled howler monkeys are an exception where groups can be as large as 40, and both male and female members are likely to join other troops.

Ancient Mayan civilizations saw these monkeys as divine creatures and worshipped howler monkey gods. Nowadays, these monkeys are frequently traded illegally as pets in South and Central America. Due to their relatively fast reproduction rate the howler monkey is less threatened by hunting and capture for the pet industry compared to other primate species. However, habitat destruction for agriculture and cattle grazing threatens their existence. Zoonotic diseases, such as yellow fever, are also depleting population sizes.

In 2015, five howler monkeys, who were rescued from animal traffickers, were re-introduced in Tijuca Forest, Brazil. They had disappeared from the forest, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, more than 100 years ago. The Tijuca Forest, known for Christ the Redeemer, is one of the world’s largest urban woodlands, but due to environmental degradation, has lost its fauna. The re-introduced monkeys will play a vital role in seed dispersal. Other conservation initiatives stem from Conservation Leadership Programme who are supporting projects to conserve the endangered Caatinga howler monkey, by preserving habitat in its original geographical range to promote population recovery.

Written by Emily Elmer – Wildlife Conservation Today Contributor

Proboscis Monkey

These primates belong to a group of monkeys named odd-nosed colobines. They are considered one of the largest colobines in the world. Their body and head fur are mostly a bright orange/reddish brown colour, with grey arms, legs and belly. The large nose where the monkey gets its name, is only seen on males, however the female does have an above average nose for a primate. They are also known for their potbellies. 

They inhabit waterside forests, and can only be found on the island of Borneo. Along with the orangutan these primates are favoured by eco-tourists, where many intrigued travelers watch these monkeys from riverboats and canoes. 

Their diet consists of leaves, seeds, fruits, and occasionally small insects. A typical group would contain one male and 2-3 females. However, groups sizes can range from 2- 25 and bachelor groups are occasionally formed. They can rest up to 75% of the day and can live up to 14 years.

Females have a gestation period of 5 months. They will compete with each other to mate with males that have the largest noses. There are theories that the females prefer the vocalisations from males with larger noses as they can be louder and resonate further — and the bulbous nose of a proboscis has been sexually selected by the females. 

To cross rivers they sway from branches to build up momentum to hurl themselves across to the other side. Although, if the river is too wide, they will dive from treetops into the water but usually ending in a belly-flop. Proboscis monkeys are proficient swimmers having partially webbed feet and hands and can swim underwater for up to 20 meters.

This species is considered endangered, with palm-oil plantations being a major threat through forest clearance and fragmentation. In the last 40 years proboscis populations have dropped by nearly 50%. The species is also threatened by hunting and is used in traditional Chinese medicine. The proboscis monkey is protected throughout Borneo by law such as the Wildlife Protection Act. Large portions of its remaining habitat are also protected. 

Eco-tourism is playing a major part in driving the protection of these monkeys and their habitat, as it creates income for the locals and boost the economy giving an incentive to conserve this species. World Land Trust (WLT) also have projects within Borneo purchasing land to create important wildlife corridors to connect fragmented forests. World Land Trust is an “international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre.” WLT funds the creation of reserves and provides protection for wildlife. Partnerships are developed with local organisations engaging and supporting the local community. 

Written by Emily Elmer – Wildlife Conservation Today Contributor

Gibbons

Gibbons live in the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia and are a member of the ape family. There are 19 different species of Gibbons, all of which are on the verge of extinction owing to palm oil harvesting, logging and the illegal wildlife trade. The different species of Gibbons can be divided up into 4 genera (a form of biological classification which is above species but below families) including Hoolock, Hylobates, Nomascus and Symphalangus.

The scientific name of the Gibbon is Hylobatidae. Gibbons are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Their diet consists of fruit, figs and leaves as well as insects on occasion. Gibbons weigh anywhere from 9 – 29 pounds and stand 17 -25 inches tall depending on the species. In the wild, Gibbons can live an average of 25 to 30 years of age. The average gestation period for a female Gibbon is around 7 months. 

Gibbons often pair up, occasionally forming  lifelong relationships. This is rare among primates. Gibbons live in small family groups. Each group contains 2 – 6 members and consists of the adult couple and their offspring. Female Gibbons remain in their initial family for about 8.5 years and males for up to 10 years before leaving to begin a family of their own. Gibbons communicate by singing. When singing, a Gibbon can be heard for up to 2 miles in the densely covered rainforests. 

There are many ways in which we can help to ensure the survival of this incredible ape. We can start by purchasing products made with sustainable palm oil (look for the RSPO certification on the label), you can donate to a reputable conservation organization such as the Gibbon Conservation Center, you can symbolically adopt a Gibbon and you can raise awareness by sharing this article.

Lemurs

Lemurs are incredibly fascinating primates. Lemurs live solely on the island of Madagascar. There are over 100 different species of Lemurs in the world today. Lemurs are one of the smallest primates. In fact, the largest species of Lemur known as the Indri Lemur, only stands up to 35 inches tall. 

Unlike many types of primates, groups of Lemurs are run by females. The female Lemurs are the most dominant in the group and often show aggression towards the males. This type of behavior is uncommon amongst most primates. 

The appearance of Lemurs can vary depending on the species. The Blue-Eyed Black Lemur, also known as the Sclater’s Lemur, is the only primate (besides humans) with blue eyes. Lemurs are also one of the most endangered species of primate owing to deforestation. In fact, in the last 20 years the Lemur has lost up to 80% of its natural home. 

A Lemurs diet also varies depending on the species of Lemur. For instance, smaller Lemurs tend to feed on insects and fruit while the larger species of Lemur feed on bark and tree sap, leaves, flowers, fruit and nectar. 

The gestation period for Lemurs can be anywhere from 100 -170 days and mothers can birth up to 6 babies at a time. The smaller species of Lemur have a higher likelihood of having multiple babies. The age of maturity ranges from 1 year to 3.5 years depending on the species. 

Conservation efforts are incredibly vital to the survival of Lemurs. World Wildlife Fund, the San Diego Zoo and the Lemur Conservation Foundation are just a few of the organizations dedicated to saving this remarkable species. You too can get involved in primate conservation by donating to one of the many reputable conservation organizations, spreading awareness by sharing this article, and symbolically adopting the primate of your choice. With your help we can save primates everywhere. 

Eastern Lowland Gorilla

The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is located in the tropical rainforest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are also known as the Grauer Gorilla, named after Austrian scientist Rudolf Grauer who discovered the species in the early twentieth century. The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies, weighing on average 440 pounds, though the giant males can weigh up to 600 pounds. They are listed as a critically endangered species owing to poaching and civil unrest in the area. 

The Eastern Lowland Gorilla stands anywhere from 4 – 5 ½ feet tall. They look similar to a mountain gorilla with their jet black coats however the Eastern Lowland Gorilla has shorter fur and longer limbs. Also similarly to the mountain gorilla, male Eastern Lowland Gorillas have a silver stretch of hair down their backs. Gorillas with this appearance are known as “silverbacks”. The Eastern Lowland Gorillas’ diet consists of fruits, leaves, stems and tree bark. 

The Eastern Lowland Gorilla survives in family packs of up to 30 members. The pack is led by a dominant male gorilla. The dominant male gorilla is the only gorilla permitted to mate with the female gorillas in the pack. Female Eastern Lowland Gorillas have a gestation period of around 8 ½ months. Infants usually sleep in the same nest as their mothers until they reach the age of 3. In the wild, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla can live anywhere from 35 – 50 years of age. 

There are many ways you can help ensure the survival of the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. You can spread awareness by sharing this article, you can donate to one of the many conservation organizations or you can symbolically adopt a gorilla. There are also reputable companies that will allow you to book tours to see the gorillas up close, in their natural habitat. The proceeds go towards gorilla conservation efforts. No conservation effort is too small. We all have the ability to make a difference in the lives of primates. 

The Black & White Colobus Monkey

The Black and White Colobus Monkey is closely related to the Red Colobus. There are 5 species and 8 known sub-species. Their fur is mostly black, but with white fur surrounding their facial features and long white fur, in a U shape, forming on their back. The babies of Eastern Black and White Colobus are born purely white and their fur gradually changes colour as they get older.

The name Colobus comes from the Greek word Kolobós meaning “docked” pertaining to their very small thumbs. A Colobus’ thumb being small allows it to swing through trees with more efficiency, using their 4 fingers as hooks to swing from branches. They are considered the most arboreal (tree-dwelling) monkey.

They mostly live-in high-density forests in Central African countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Kenya. Their diet consists primarily of leaves whilst occasionally eating fruits and flowers. They can live up to 30 years and have a gestation period of 6 months. These monkeys have complicated social groups which differ greatly in size and structure. Groups tend to be territorial and size can range from as little as 3 and up 15 individuals. Previously, they were thought to live in groups consisting of one dominant male and several females. However, groups with multi-male and multi-female members have been observed. Allomothering (where parental care is given by a group member that isn’t a biological parent) is often seen in this species.

They can be susceptible to hunting for the bush-meat trade and for their fur and skin. But this species is known to be especially vigilant when in low-canopy and whilst not in close quarters to other members. They are also threatened by logging and habit fragmentation.

Colobus Conservation is a not-for-profit organization that works to support and advocate conservation, to ensure the long-term survival of the nationally threatened Angolan Black and White Colobus monkey (Colobus angolensis palliatus) and other primates on the South Coast of Kenya. Their work focuses on the following areas; Conservation, Animal Welfare, and Education. They have numerous projects concentrating on data collection, solutions for human/primate conflicts, primate protection and rescue, community social development and education, forest protection/enrichment and eco-tourism awareness program.

Written by Emily Elmer – Wildlife Conservation Today Contributor

The Baboon

Baboons are located in Africa and Arabia. There are five species and six subspecies of Baboon including the Chacma Baboon, Kinda Baboon, Hamadryas Baboon, Guinea Baboon, Olive Baboon and the Yellow Baboon.  The Guinea Baboon is the most threatened of all species of Baboons. Baboons can vary in appearance depending on the species.

The average lifespan of a Baboon in the wild is 30 years, though they can live up to 40 years of age. Baboons can weigh anywhere from 20 to 80 pounds depending on the species. Baboons are considered omnivorous. Their diet consists of grass, roots, seeds, bark and even meat. Baboons have been known to eat birds and rodents and at times even larger animals such as antelope and sheep. Baboons have a gestation period of around 6 months. 

The biggest threat to Baboons is humans. Humans consider Baboons to be a nuisance and thus they are often poisoned. Habitat loss due to agricultural expansion is another threat Baboons face. By utilizing  more sustainable agricultural practice we can lessen habitat loss which can help ensure the survival of Baboons. 

There are many ways to get involved in primate conservation. You can raise awareness by sharing this article, you can donate  to a reputable wildlife conservation society and you can ensure the items you purchase are sustainably sourced.

Red Colobus Monkey

There are up to 9 species of Red Colobus. Their appearance can vary between species, but usually having red/brown fur and a long tail. The Udzungwa Red Colobus has a striking appearance, having black and white body fur and bright red fur on the top of its head.

They mostly live in humid forests across East, Central and West Africa, in countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Uganda. The Tana River Red Colobus in Kenya is Critically Endangered. They can also be found near coastal areas and montane rainforests.

Their diet consists of leaves, shoots, buds, fruit and fungi. They reach maturity at 4 years old and their gestation period is 6 and half months. Infants are born throughout the year unlike other Colobus species who have birth seasons. They live in mixed male and female groups where the males tend to be larger than the females. Groups sizes are large, up to 80 individuals, where both females and males are known to switch groups. When switching groups, the Red Colobus is known to spy on potential groups by living with nearby green monkeys.

They often fall prey to chimpanzees; in some chimpanzee populations they make up to 90% of their mammalian prey. This can greatly impact the Red Colobus population, and group sizes may change due to chimpanzee predation. They are also highly sensitive to hunting from humans and are considered the most threatened taxonomic group of primates in Africa.

Due to their plant-based diet, the stomach of a Red Colobus is split into four chambers (similar to a cows). This type of digestion takes a very long time and so the Red Colobus spends a lot of time sitting with a full stomach. This causes them to be easily hunted. Human hunters have almost wiped out certain populations and nearly every species is endangered or critically endangered. One species, the Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus, hasn’t been sighted since 1978 and could already be extinct. Like many other animals they are also threatened by habitat loss.

Global Wildlife Conservation are working alongside other groups to elevate the Red Colobus to a flagship species, (a species selected to raise support in biodiversity conservation). Their action plan consists of developing a Red Colobus conservation network, improving awareness and strengthening protection among many others.

Written by Emily Elmer – Wildlife Conservation Today Contributor