March 19, 2012
"The problem of introduced primate species within the state of Rio de Janeiro requires attention, because the ecological costs of these outsiders may be the irretrievable loss of native species," the researchers write. "Although invasive species are a worldwide problem, in the state of Rio de Janeiro the problem is worse, as more non-native than native primate species were recorded within the state."
Scouring research literature, talking with local biologists, and even contacting local animal rescue stations, scientists found evidence for a total of eight alien monkeys in the area. Some like the black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus) and the black-and-gold howler monkey (Alouatta caraya) are not considered great risks, because scientists could not find any evidence that they had actually established populations, but were more liklely rogue individuals. However, invasive marmosets and squirrel monkeys could pose a significant threat. Golden headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas), which were accidently introduced by an animal collector, could also be a problem as their population is now over a hundred. Finally, the breeding of non-native capuchins with local species has resulted in hybrid species.
"Hybridization is probably the worst effect of these introductions," the scientists note as it is insidiously undercutting endangered primates' survival.
But it's not just native primates that are at risk. Some of the introduced species are known to prey on the eggs and chicks of the restinga antwren (Formicivora littoralis), an Atlantic Forest bird that is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Unknown impacts are likely as well.
The researchers recommend raising awareness on the dangers of keeping primates as pets and sterilization measures of alien species. Where, possible, however, the scientists say the best thing would be to remove the invasive primates altogether.
"Though this recommendation will likely cause political and social concern, it is the most appropriate action considering the potential effects on the native primate species as well as on the whole biodiversity of the state," the scientists write.
CITATION: Oliveira, L. C. and Grelle, C.E.V.. 2012. Introduced primate species of an Atlantic Forest region in Brazil: present and future implications for the native fauna. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 5(1):112-120.
Eco-toilets help save hippos and birds in Kenya
(01/04/2012) It may appear unintuitive that special toilets could benefit hippos and other wetland species, but the Center for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE) has proven the unique benefits of new toilets in the Dunga Wetlands on Lake Victoria's Kenyan side. By building ecologically-sanitary (eco-san) toilets, CREE has managed to alleviate some of the conflict that has cropped up between hippos and humans for space.
Giant snakes commonly attacked modern hunter-gatherers in Philippines
(12/13/2011) Humans have an ambivalent relationship with snakes. The legless reptiles are often feared and reviled, becoming stand-ins for the Devil and movie monster characters; yet many people have grown to love snakes, raising large, even dangerous, specimens as pets. Now, new research suggests that the ecological role between snakes and humans, as well as other primates, is more nuanced than expected. After spending decades living among the Agta Negritos people in the Philippines, anthropologist Thomas Headland has found that the hunter gatherer tribes were quite commonly attacked by reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus), while the people themselves had no qualms with hunting, killing, and consuming python.
Palm oil, pulp companies commit to zero-tolerance policy for orangutan killing
(12/06/2011) Two Indonesian plantation companies have signed an agreement to train workers not to kill or injure orangutans and other protected species. The agreement was brokered by the Indonesian government between Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), a non-profit with operations in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, and two major plantation firms: PT Smart, one of Indonesia's largest palm oil producers, and PT Lontar Papyrus, which supplies wood-pulp to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). Both companies are holdings of the Sinar Mas Group. Under the terms of the deal, OFI will assist the companies 'in delivering a best management practices training program on orangutans and endangered species for its employees, affiliates and pulpwood suppliers.'