Day 1: Greetings from Barranquilla, Colombia!!
This morning I was picked up by members of Proyecto Titi and we drove about an hour away from the city to a private farm called El Ceibal. This farm is private operational farm but the owners have allowed field research to go on in their forest for several years. Tracking these small monkeys in thick tropical forest is not easy, so the researchers have put transmitters on the dominate males of each group. They then use an antenna to find the signals the transmitters send. The transmitters are strapped to the males like backpacks and are on for 12 hours during the day. Each year, during the dry season, they will capture each group in wooden crates set up in the forest and take them back to El Ceibal. Here with the assistance of a vet they will measure, weigh, check numbers tattooed on the monkeys, dye parts of their white hair for easier identification, change the transmitter batteries, and sometimes take blood samples.
Today we began our hike by walking about 20 minutes through cattle pastures to reach the edge of the forest. Once inside the forest I was shown several marked trees identifying the trees that cotton top tamarins feed from. Currently they have marked 87 different species of trees used by the tamarins. We found two groups this morning, Group 11 and Group 10. Group 11 consist of 6 tamarins with the dominant male Reinaldo and the heavily pregnant dominant female Tamara. Group 10 consisted of 5 tamarins with the dominant female Narda and the dominant male Gabriel. There is a baby in this group that was born in late May or early June. It’s hard to get a good picture of these fast moving animals in the shady forest, but you can see them in this photo.
Each time a group is found, the researches sit down and observe the group for about 30 minutes. Also during this time, they try to collect fecal from the dominant females to be used for a reproductive research project. I also was able to see several other species of animals, including a small arboreal anteater, howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and several species of birds. I hope next time I enter the forest to see even more!