By Kelly Reid, Marketing Intern
Around sunrise in many parts of Costa Rica, you are bound to hear the haunting calls of the native howler monkeys. They’re majestic animals, with beautiful and intelligent eyes that some have called “melancholy.” But howlers are playful too. The live in large social groups of fifteen to twenty animals, are seldom aggressive, and rarely fight within their own groups. Howlers live throughout Costa Rica, and spotting one generally brings a smile to the face of both tourists and locals alike.
Unfortunately, howlers are facing new threats brought on by the fast-paced development across the country. The recent spike in tourism, though beneficial in many ways, means that some development is unregulated. Electricity lines, for instance, are often uninsulated. When the development encroaches on the territory of the howlers, they see an electricity line and believe that it’s a tree limb from which they can swing. This leads to awful electrocutions, which are often fatal. When a mother is towing an infant and grabs a power line or a transformer, the infant also risks electrocution or at the very least, an incredible fall. Even if they survive, they will be orphaned and their chances of survival become slim. In 1998, there were an estimated 107,000 howler monkeys. That figure dropped to 37,000 in 2004.
Thankfully, the Nosara Wildlife Rescue Center has started a monkey orphanage for the howlers that come into contact with the power lines. They work to nurse them back to health when possible, or they care for the infants that lose their mothers to electrocution until they can be released back into the wild. If the creature is unlikely to survive back in the wild – for instance, when they lose a limb to electrocution – then they receive extensive long-term care at the Nosara facility. But with such quick development and limited resources, Nosara fights a tough battle. If you would like to support the Nosara facility and adopt a monkey from rescue to release, visit their website!
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