- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the red howler monkey.
As their name suggests, howler monkeys are famous for their loud vocalizations. They are considered to be the loudest land mammal on the planet, with howls traveling five kilometers through dense forest. But how can they emit such loud calls? Well, they have an enlarged hyoid bone in their throat that gives resonance to the calls. Howler monkeys are composed of 15 different species, all of which live in the forests of South and Central America. This episode features the red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus). Like other groups of monkeys, howler monkeys have prehensile tails that can fully wrap around branches and fruit. But not only that, their tails have tactile pads, so they can feel with the same aptitude that their hands and feet can feel with. Their strong tails are able to support their entire body weight and in some cases, the tail is almost five times their body length. Watch the video to learn more about these beautiful creatures.
Special thanks to Diego Mosquera for sharing this footage with us. This footage was taken at Tiputini Biodiversity Station, a field biological station run by Universidad San Francisco de Quito and located in Yasuni National Park, a place documented as one of the most biodiverse places on earth. In 2005, the Tiputini Biodiversity Station begun using camera-traps to initiate a long-term monitoring program to obtain information on the occurrence, distribution and relative abundance of large terrestrial mammals and birds. They also wanted to document the importance of “saladeros” (also known as mineral licks, clay licks or colpas) as a resource for different species and to see how their use varies not only between species, but also between seasons. Clay licks typically occur at sites with eroded soil layers, often along small drains or intermittent streams and they are used by a variety of mammals and birds that come to these sites to eat clay and drink water. Although ten species of primates inhabit the area, only two species of primates are frequent visitors of these clay licks: Spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) and Red Howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus).
Review questions for educators
These questions can help provide a framework for exploring the topics presented in this story.
- How far can a howler monkey’s call travel?
- What makes it possible for howler monkeys to make such loud vocalizations?
- What is a prehensile tail?
Banner image: Screenshot of camera trap footage by Diego Mosquera