These squirrel-sized monkeys may not be big, but they certainly get your attention! On this Wildlife Wednesday, we learn about the golden lion tamarin.
These squirrel-sized vine swingers may not be the biggest primate out there, but they certainly get your attention! Let’s not get down to monkey business, though—on this Wildlife Wednesday, we’re talking tamarin (golden lion tamarin, to be specific).
These brightly coloured creatures can be glimpsed swinging through the thick canopies of the seasonal rainforests found along Brazil’s Atlantic coast.
- Talk about a tight-knit family! Tamarins tend to live in groups of two to eight members—normally, a breeding pair, last season’s offspring, and perhaps an aunt, uncle, or other relatives.
- After a female gives birth (normally to twins), the male becomes a stay-at-home dad, carrying his little monkeys around and only returning to mom when it’s time for food.
- These family-loving folk aren’t picky about their food—they’re omnivores, and will make a meal of everything from fruit, flowers, and tree sap to insects, snails, and even small birds!
- When it comes to being a successful golden lion tamarin, it’s all in the fingers. Their long digits are great for digging bugs out of hard-to-reach places, and each digit (except for their big toes) is topped by a claw that helps them scarper along tree trunks and over vertical surfaces.
Why are they threatened?
Centuries of deforestation for sugar cane and coffee plantations and, more recently, logging, and livestock and charcoal production, has left the tamarins’ forest range in shambles. Today, only about 8 percent of the their range still stands, making a home for fewer than 1,000 individuals and providing limited space in which to expand.
However, it’s not a leap to imagine a future where these bold primates can safely make their homes in Brazil’s canopies. They can already find a safe haven in several reserves, including Reserva Biológica Poço das Antas, a 28,000 acre (11, 300 hectare) park near Rio de Janeiro.
And, as more and more nature-loving tourists flock to the area, the area’s residents are realizing that their coastal forests are more valuable intact than on the ground.