Uakari: The Red-Faced Monkey of the Amazon

UakariPhoto: flickkerphotos

This bizarre looking monkey is one of the New World monkeys and is found in the western Amazon of Peru and Brazil. It has a short tail and long golden fur, but its most amazing feature is its head, which is not only bald but bright red. The red coloring is not a pigment like that seen in baboons but is in fact a lack of pigment. The Uakari has so little fat under its skin and is so full of capillaries that the blood shows through to make it red-faced.

UakariPhoto: Evgenia Kononova

The coloring is also useful during mating season when it is a sign of health for those seeking partners. All the Uakaris travel in smallish family groups of between 5 to 50 members, but there have been groups as large as 100 in forested habitats close to water. Omniverous, they will eat insects but prefer to stick to fruit, nuts and seeds.

UakariPhoto: Claudio Timm

Although Uakaris are listed as vulnerable, this is actually a better status than it had in 1994 when they were listed as endangered. Habitat destruction is a major problem due to logging as well as hunting. A number of conservation efforts have been made, most notably the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Amazone-Andes Conservation program, which protects seven landscapes in Central and South America.

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