Primates in the Atlantic Forest have been suffering from a bout of yellow fever, but the population of Endangered Southern Woolly Spider Monkey in Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) seem to have survived, reports our Keeper of the Wild in Brazil.
An outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease which began in late 2017 was called the biggest outbreak in modern times, affecting the cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais. This has made the Brazilian government attempt its first nationwide immunization campaign against the disease.
However, the outbreak is thought to have started in wild primate populations in the forests. According to Anna Durbin, a professor of international health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, this is one of the first signs of a potential human outbreak: “One of the proverbs is that ‘when the howler monkey falls silent, everyone starts to worry,’ because they know yellow fever is in the area.”
REGUA’s monkey populations survive outbreak
Nicholas Locke, President of REGUA, says “We were very sad to hear that a couple of Howler Monkey carcasses were found on a neighbouring property to our reserve, belonging to one of our partners, due to the Yellow Fever that spread over South East Brazil. The forests have remained silent as a result. A massive campaign to vaccinate people has resulted but it is impossible for doctors to reach the primates in the forests.
“We have been quite worried that REGUA’s population of Endangered Southern Muriquis, or Woolly Spider Monkeys, would be affected. However, one of our rangers, Rildo da Rosa Oliveira, was recently on the Red Trail, high above the waterfall, and heard barking from the tree canopy some way away. He followed the sound and soon found a group of five noisy adults in the trees, one a mother with her young.”
“Rildo has also heard the howlers calling in the reserve over the last month, so it seems we haven’t lost all the groups in this area. Fingers crossed that our continued restoration will give all our wildlife the room to recover from threats like these and develop healthy, robust populations.”
REGUA works to protect and restore Atlantic Forest in the state of Rio de Janeiro for the benefit of Brazilian wildlife, which has suffered greatly from deforestation. World Land Trust (WLT) supports Rildo’s important work patrolling and protecting this forest through the Keepers of the Wild programme.