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About 80 of the world’s approximately 300 primate species (which also include marmosets and tamarins) are found in Brazil, many of them unique to the country. Some monkeys are hunted deep in the forest by settlers and indigenous people for their meat, and others live harmoniously in and around beach towns, much like squirrels in North American city parks. Some species are quite common and on an Amazon jungle trip you’re very likely to see groups of monkeys moving through trees.
The most common primate in Amazonia is the little squirrel monkey, with its pale face, dark nose area, big ears and long tail. It moves in small, noisy groups. The black spider monkey, up to 1.5m long with thin, lengthy limbs and a prehensile tail (accounting for 60% of its length), is fairly common in parts of Amazonia where it isn’t usually hunted. Southeast Brazil’s two species of wooly spider monkey, the southern muriqui and northern muriqui, with their thick brown fur, are the largest primates in the Americas and both are endangered, the northern species critically so and down to a population of under 300.Howler monkeys are much easier heard than seen: their roar (not really a howl) carries over many kilometers. They’re stocky, up to 1.25m long (half tail), and live in groups of up to 20 – usually 10m to 20m high in trees – that are led by a single male.
In Amazonia you’re most likely to encounter the red howler monkey. Further south, including in the Pantanal, the black howler monkey is the local species. The brown howler monkey inhabits the small remaining areas of the Mata Atlântica. The rumors are true – a howler monkey will try to pelt you with its excrement if it feels threatened, so you may want to listen to its roar from a judicious distance.The lithe capuchin monkeys are named for the hair atop their heads, which resembles monks’ cowls. They’re dispersed over almost the whole country – even Rio de Janeiro’s Parque Nacional & Floresta da Tijuca – living in groups of up to 20 led by one male, and active by day in the lower forest stories, so relatively easily seen. The usual species is the brown capuchin monkey, measuring up to 1m (half tail).
The two types of uakari monkey, the black-headed and the bald, inhabit Amazonian flooded forest. The bald uakari has a red or pink bald head and thick, shaggy body fur ranging from chestnut-red to white (giving rise to the popular names red uakari and white uakari). Bald uakaris are threatened, but if you happen to visit the Mamirauá Reserve (Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá; p659) you stand a good chance of seeing the very distinctive white uakari.
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