One of the charms of this place that never ceases to astonish me, even after two years, is watching the Howler monkey crossing among the jungle. Walking the hill everyday gives me the opportunity of looking at them close enough to admire their perfect, beautiful faces, the lines in their hands and feet, the expression of their eyes. It’s just wonderful. Sometimes they pay attention to people walking on the hill (most of the time they just ignore us) while they hang on a branch or a electricity cable scratching themselves or chewing on a leave and I swear that their look says ‘Pura Vida’.
My fascination for these primates led me to do some research. Here is what I found out:
In the first place, they are strict vegetarians (thus my empathy for them) unlike the white-face monkeys that eat everything! Despite their howl that sounds very scary and be heard from 5 miles away, these monkeys are very shy and docile. The howl is used to send the message to other groups of monkeys that this territory has been taken claimed.
Though they are diurnal, they rest about 80% of the time; barely getting off the trees. They live in communities of 4 – 19 members and more than one male can be part of it.
Their hair can be black, brown or red. In the beginning, I thought it was due to the sun; but the color variation identifies their gender: males are black and females are brownish. Their size can also vary from 22 to 36 inches head to toe. The tail can be as long as the body and is usually used as a third arm.
When they feel threatened by human presence, their defense method is to… pee! So you better be careful when standing under them to take a picture.
These monkeys are native to Central and South America; their habitat is the rain forest. Since deforestation and cities growth has increased considerably, their population has drop by 50%. Scientists fear that if conservation and environmental measures are not applied urgently the howler monkeys will become extinct in 35 years.