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Conservationists and Peruvian villagers join forces to save endangered monkey

For immediate release

New research shows a critically endangered species of monkey is flourishing thanks to the combined efforts of local communities and a conservation charity in Peru.

Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC) began working with farming communities in Yambrasbamba to protect the yellow tailed woolly monkey in 2007.

The innovative projects, which include voluntary pledges by local villagers to control hunting and forest clearance, have proved a success with a growth in the monkey population and significant increases seen in infants.

Dr Sam Shanee, of Neotropical Primate Conservation said: “The idea of our work, and community conservation as a whole, is that protecting the environment isn't something that only governments and big NGO's can do, it is something that benefits all people and is within reach of all people”. 

The yellow tailed woolly monkey has been listed as one of the world’s 25 most threatened primate species and there are thought to be only thousands left in the wild.

Deforestation, commercial and subsistence hunting, the pet trade, local development and resource exploitation have all contributed to its demise.

The research also showed that while deforestation was still occurring in the area, it was happening at a lower rate than the regional and national averages.

Dr Shanee said the cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss was often blamed on local people who were portrayed as the “bad guys”.

He said: “What we continue to find is that with effective discussion of the importance of forests and wildlife many local people not only understand the need for conservation but also become great conservationists leading their communities and, as seen in this study, succeeding in protecting some of the most threatened species and habitats through simple cost effective solutions where many larger projects/institutions have failed”.

The success of the project has prompted the charity to call on other conservation practitioners to involve local communities in their work.

“Our results provide compelling evidence that Community Conservation projects can be successful in highly populated areas, and we urge conservation practitioners to involve local actors when planning and implementing initiatives” they said.


Notes for Editors

  • Photos available on request
  • Interviews available on request
  • The full publication can be found here:
  • For more information write to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Wild yellow-talied woolly monkey in Yambrasbamba. Photo: Sam Shanee/NPC


Wild yellow-talied woolly monkey in Yambrasbamba. Photo: Andrew Walsmley/NPC

Infant lagothrix flavicauda rescued from ilegal trade. Photo: Noga Shanee/NPC

Two new scientific publications

Lagothrix flavicauda in La Esperanza. Photo: NPCOur latest paper on the yellow tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) examines the impact of our work, and community conservation as a whole, from a biological perspective. The results of this study show a reduction in deforestation rates and an increase in population size of the yellow tailed woolly monkey at our La Esperanza study site. These were achieved through educating people about the species and importance of forests, showing that protecting the environment isn't something that only governments and big NGO's can do What we continue to find is that with simple explanations local people not only understand the need for conservation but also become great conservationists.
The article can be found here:
The Peruvian night monkey (Aotus miconax) is one of the least known of all primate species and is often overlooked by conservationists as they are not as visible as other species. What we found in this study is that they are hunted in quite large numbers and face the same pressures from habitat loss as other wildlife. The most poistive result of this study is that we were able to find this species still surviving in some of the most deforested and heavily populated areas. Meaning that at least in some cases it can survive alongside humans, with simple precautions like planting living fences between fields and educating people, especially children, not to disturb the nests of this species and not to keep them as pets we are hopefully that the Peruvian night monkey will survive.
Download the article here:

Short and successful campaign

Buena noticia, Ayer en la noche nos hemos enterado que la Administración Técnica Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre de Cajamarca está invitando a la gente de Cajamarca a registrar los animales silvestres que ellos mantengan como mascotas. Esta iniciativa nos pareció muy extraña, porque es contradictorio a las leyes Peruanas y a las políticas del Servicio Nacional Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre (SERFOR). Obviamente que estamos completamente contra la legitimización de la tenencia fauna silvestre conociendo los muy graves efectos de este tráfico a las poblaciones silvestres y al bienestar de los animales mantenidos en cautiverio, y así es que hemos sacado una pequeña y rápida campaña en las redes sociales y contactamos al SERFOR para entender lo que esta pasando y para pronunciar esta iniciativa. Estuvimos muy felices al ver que muchas otras ONGs de conservación y derecho de animales se nos unieron en esta campaña. Comunicando con SERFOR nos hemos enterado que ésta acción fue una iniciativa propia de la ATFFS de Cajamarca y no fue coordinado previamente con SERFOR, que como nosotros estaban en contra de ella. Felicitamos y agradecemos a Jessica Galvez y Mirbel Epiquien de SERFOR por su rápida y correcta acción en comunicar con la ATFFS de Cajamarca a primera hora del día de hoy y exigir la cancelación de esta dañina iniciativa.

An official complaint about the Colombian company "On Vacation"

A child with a young sloth offered for pictures. This week we made an official complaint to the Environmental Public Prosecutor’s office about the Colombian tourism company "On Vacation" who are trafficking Peruvian animals to Colombia. The company has two hotels, one in Puerto Alegria, Peru and another in Leticia, Colombia; both hotels have captive wild animals including many protected and endangered species such as manatees, woolly monkeys and matamata turtles. It is estimated that in the Colombian side there are over a hundred animals. According to interviews with workers all have been illegally exported from Peru to Colombia. The company is also carrying tourists (200-500 people a day) to an Association for Women in Puerto Alegria where tourists take pictures with wild animals extracted from the forest for the sole purpose of attracting tourists. Many children are exploited in this business which is also against Peruvian law.

Other violations found in our research are that the hotel on the Peruvian side of the border is built entirely of illegally harvested wood, and that the waste of these 200-500 tourists a day, which consists mostly of non-degradable materials, are dumped directly into the river daily. We hope that the authorities take this complaint seriously and act with all seriousness and to the full extant of the law to stop these activities which are so damaging to the environment and to Peruvian wildlife. We would like to thank the informants for their important and thorough research that will hopefully bring justice to these animals.

This complaint is part of our ongoing campaign collecting tip- offs about fauna in captivity from concerned members of the public and working with the wildlife authorities towards their rescue. If you know of any cases of wildlife trafficking in Peru, please let us know by mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


A child with a young caiman offered for pictures.

NPC Newsletter Vol. 30

Click here to download our latest newsletter volume 30 for January 2015.

Callicebus oenenthe rescued by NPC. Foto: Noga Shanee


End of Year Report 2014

We are pleased to present NPC's annual report, which highlights our most important achievements of 2014.  From important studies on the ecology of  Peru's endemic primate species, to the continued success and expansion of our Community Based Conservation Network, to an intensified focus on battling the illegal trafficking of Peru's amazing and often threatened fauna, it has been a very busy year!  We hope you will enjoy learning more about it.

Click here to download

 NPC - End of Year Report 2014



Peruvian Protected Species Sold for Torture in Asia

Yellow spotted river turtles stored before shipping

Hundreds of thousands of baby yellow-spotted river turtles, born and caught in the Pacaya Saimiria National Reserve, are being exported to Asia to supply the ‘exotic food’ and 'souvenirs' market. The animals, barely a few days old, are destined to be eaten or imprisoned within key chains as tacky fashion accessories until they eventually die, and all this with the permission of the Peruvian environmental authorities.

The key chains, made of transparent plastic and averaging 7-10 cm diameter, are half-filled with colored water. The turtles are encapsulated within the plastic and left with a small amount of food in the water, and this is where each animal is destined to see the end of its days, imprisoned and starving in torturous conditions, dangled on the end of a set of keys, until its slow death a few weeks later, when the owner will dump it in the trash and most likely go out and buy a new key ring. Clearly, this type of product serves no necessary purpose and caters to nothing other than a capricious desire to possess a keepsake, and a cruel one at that. This immoral use of wild animals was exposed several months ago by animal rights activists and conservationists and has provoked an international outcry, however the link to Peru as the provider of this unfortunate species has only recently been exposed.

The yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) is an endangered species protected under Peruvian national legislation and the CITES convention. The Peruvian project whereby artificial beaches are created for the turtles, is a source of national pride and is showcased as an example of sustainable community management of natural resources, establishing an annual quota for the use of the 294,000 live young. However as yet no real study of how the exploitation of these threatened turtles affects the populations of the species has been carried out, nor have the effects of the project been assessed on a local socio-economic level, to see to what extent the people involved are actually benefitting. Previous research suggests, however, that most of the profits only make it as far as lining the pockets of middlemen and do not reach the communities who are actually investing the effort and money in participating in the program, reaping little of the final reward.

One known fact is that the Peruvian government has authorized exportation of the turtles originating from the community-managed Pacaya Samiria reserve to the company Tropical Fish Farm Aquarium SRL and Aquatrade, the former being known for previous offenses in the trafficking of wild animals. These companies, which export principally to Asia, are said to have been exporting larger quantities than the amounts declared on their permits, as was detected recently by Lufthansa, the airline employed to transport them. This occurs because the amounts and possibly the species, are not being adequately regulated, therefore leaving an open door for higher numbers of animals as well as non-permitted species to embark.

Around 290,000 turtles of only a few days old, obtained principally from the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve were legally exported in 2014. Obviously these figures do not take into account mortality rates after leaving their origin, during inspection and technical controls and during transport. Nor do they take into account that many of the baby turtles bred or captured for sale fail to enter legal shipments for export, much less the amounts that are destined for the national market. There is evidence that people continue to catch and sell the turtles illegally, possibly using approved documentation for laundering purposes, enabling them to surpass the permissible quotas for these species and thus greatly exceeding the numbers of animals being recorded by the government as part of this "successful” community management project. There is no evidence that this project is sustainable from either an environmental or social viewpoint.

We therefore demand that the national and regional environmental authorities of Loreto immediately retract all permits for trading and exporting these turtles until in-depth investigations are carried out on the feasibility, sustainability and legality of the project. For more information write to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Noga Shanee, Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC)


Three circus monkeys rescued in Lima; more wild animals remain in Peruvian circuses

Last week in Lima, Peruvian authorities confiscated two endangered spider monkeys and a capuchin monkey from a circus.  NPC worked with the authorities, providing information obtained through our ongoing “DenunciaFauna” media campaign, which asks people from all over Peru to tell us what they know about illegally kept wildlife. This particular circus has been known to NPC for some time.   With the help of many concerned local people, we found that it has been appearing regularly in different parts of Lima each weekend. Forty eight hours after receiving the last DenunciaFauna tip, a joint operation of authorities, headed by the environmental public prosecutor Arturo Rosales Criollo, led to the three monkeys’ rescue.  We have already transported these animals to rescue centers in the Peruvian lowlands, and are thankful to all of the authorities, vets and informants involved in this excellent operation.  We wish these beautiful and endangered monkeys a lot of luck, tranquility and happiness in their new forever homes.

Spider monkey in circus before the rescueWith this rescue in mind, we are concerned by recent reports by NGO Animal Defenders International (ADI), which make the repeated claim that, following their work in the country last year, Peru’s circuses have now been “emptied” of wild animals.  While we wish that this was true, last week’s rescue, along with our knowledge of a number other Peruvian circuses that have been and are still operating with wild animals, belie this blanket statement. 

Claims of this sort are irresponsible, as they are extremely damaging to organizations working long-term in Peru to eradicate wildlife trade and suffering. Moreover, the claims have the potential to place animals in danger by effectively denying their existence and thus limiting international contributions towards the implementation and long-term maintenance of real change.

We were further concerned to see posts on social media in recent months which saw ADI calling on supporters to help raise $10,000 for the temporary accommodation and transport of one spider monkey across Peru to a rescue centre.  In the meantime, the transport of the three monkeys rescued this week to their new homes, including the voluntary services of a veterinary escort, cost NPC about $100.

Whilst the rescue and transportation of large carnivores, such as lions and tigers, to international destinations is undoubtedly a hugely costly activity – and ADI have admirably ensured that a number of big cats have been moved from Peruvian circuses to overseas sanctuaries - there are a number of local groups very well placed to deal with rescued native wildlife at a fraction of the cost of the $10,000 cited by ADI for the rescue of the spider monkey, Pepe. We would encourage ADI, and any other international NGO seeking to tackle a problem such as this on a national scale, to work with local groups in the future in order to see the best outcome for the animals in the most cost-effective way possible. 


To read ADI’s recent publications:

Visit NPC’s Facebook page:

Great news for the Gran Simachache reserve!

This week, after years of hard work, the “Farmers’ Association for the Conservation of the Natural Forests of Simacache” finally signed the contract with the Regional Government of San Martin to administer the 41,000 ha El Gran Simacache Conservation Concession for the next 40 years.

Signing the contract for the administration of Gran SimacachaEl Gran Simacache is the home of a healthy and dense population of the Critically Endangered Andean titi monkey (Callicebus oenanthe), one of the World’s 25 most threatened primate species. On our last visits to the area we also found tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), Black-headed owl monkeys (Aotus nigriceps), red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) and little, beautiful pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea) the world’s smallest monkey species, as well as a great abundance of tapirs, jaguars and deer.  Other primates that inhabit this area are the endemic Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax), the Endangered white bellied spider monkey, (Ateles Belzebuth), white fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons) and squirrel monkeys (saimiri sp.).

NPC had been helping the association with the technical and legal aspects of the reserve creation and are now supporting them in maintaining it. Gran Simacache is the biggest, locally run reserve we have helped create to date and its maintenance and protection are a big challenge for the association and for us. The association members have put a lot of their own time, money and effort into their dream to have this special area protected. They have suffered a lot of pressure from land invaders and hunters that illegally enter the area and has resulted in death threats and even the temporary kidnapping and assault of 6 of the association members, events which have only made the group even more determined to fight for their forests.

Two weeks ago we visited 5 of the villages around the Gran Simacache reserve for environmental education sessions with adults and children, and were happy to see that the situation has calmed a great deal, the communities are now accepting and congratulating the creation of the reserve and all promised to help in its vigilance. We are excited to see the great results the association has both in the formal registration of the reserve and in achieving this social acceptance and are proud to take part in such a successful and important project.

We are also grateful to Miguel Alva Reátegui and Marita Lozano from the Regional Environemntal Authority (ARA) of San Martin for their great dedication to conservation in San Martin in General and especially for their help in creating the Gran Simacache reserve.

Gran Simacache

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