Monday, November 9, 2009
Squirrel Monkey or Mono Titi (in Spanish)… We´re too damn cute, don´t let us dissappear!
Literally everyday I have the pleasure of being visited by one of the cutest little jungle creatures you will ever encounter……the friendly Titi or Squirrel Monkeys of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. The particular species that swings through our trees, climbs on our roofs, and even occasionally gets in our houses are found ONLY in the Manuel Antonio area. Our blessing, is this little monkeys curse though, as with continued development in the surrounding areas of Manuel Antonio & Quepos, these beautiful little animals have slowly been completely cutoff from their natural wildlife corredor, meaning the Titis of Manuel Antonio no longer have anywhere else to go! This not only limits their ability to naturally flourish, but results in an elevated level of inbreeding, more sickness, and a weakening of the species over time, putting in danger this species´ long term existence.
Easily recognized by their soft light brown body furr, adorable little white with black facial bigotes, long brown with bushy black tipped tails, and friendly incesant chatter, their tiny size and endearing faces draw oohs and ahhs from all that encounter them, making them clearly one of the main attractions in and around Manuel Antonio National Park, located on the Central Pacific Coast of tropical Costa Rica.
In search of a way to minimize the negative impact that this situation has caused, several local community organizations have emerged to help in the protection of this special little monkey. One of the most prominent in our area is www.kidssavingtherainforest.org. Some of their many objectives, has been the creation of ¨monkey bridges¨ throughout the area. These thick ropes are strategically placed where the monkeys naturally arrive to cross roads, highways or locations that have a large amount of electrical, phone, or other types of cables, or where the vegetation is not sufficient for monkeys to safely traverse. This helps the monkeys avoid electrocution, or from the creatures having to come down from the trees to continue their journey, a move that would make them terribly susceptible to predators, as well as other modern environmental hazards. This organization has also published an excellent list of 10 reasons why you should NOT feed the monkeys, which most hotels, restaurants and other businesses post in their establishments to help educate the community and the visiting tourists about the negative impact feeding the monkeys has.
Another excellent organization developed specifically for the protection of the Titi Monkey is www.titiconservationalliance.org. Their mission is to work to protect Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region through Sustainable Development, Habitat Reforestation, and Environmental Education. Started by local business owners and environmental and animal enthusiasts, this important group tirelessly fights for the protection of the Titi Monkeys and their habitat.
For those of you coming to Costa Rica, or if you have been trying to decide where to go on your next vacation, consider the Manuel Antonio area of this beautiful country, where not only will you have the opportunity to see these endangered little Squirrel Monkeys, but where many businesses will donate a portion of what you spend in our area directly for the Squirrel Monkey´s protection, so future generations will be able to enjoy the ¨Mono Titi¨ too!
Author: Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.