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Strategic Land Purchase for the Cotton-top Tamarin

Colombia

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  • Critically Endangered Cotton-top Tamarin.

Completely dependent on the tropical forest region of northern Colombia, which has been identified as one of the most threatened ecosystems in the country, Critically Endangered Cotton-top Tamarins are severely impacted by extensive habitat loss. Because of the destruction of their habitat, this small primate has faced a drastic population decline estimated to be greater than 80 percent in less than two decades.

To help secure the threatened forests on which Cotton-top Tamarins rely, Rainforest Trust’s local partner Proyecto Tití established the 173-acre Los Titíes de San Juan Reserve on land that was at risk of becoming a cattle ranch in the buffer zone of the Los Colorados sanctuary, a key site for the tamarin.

Rainforest Trust seeks $278,881 to support our local partner in the expansion of this protected area by purchasing 187.8 acres, doubling the size of the Los Titíes de San Juan Reserve. This enables the strategic creation of forest corridors that connect the protected area to other forest fragments existing in the San Juan Nepomuceno area, improving the long-term viability of the Cotton-top Tamarin populations in this region.

Biodiversity

  • Critically Endangered Cotton-top Tamarins. Photo by Joao Marcos Rosa

Cotton-top Tamarins are endemic to the forests of northern Colombia and their IUCN Red List status was increased to Critically Endangered in 2008 due to the rampant destruction of the region’s forests and precipitous population declines. These small primates usually live in extended family groups that can range from 2-15 individuals, and there are currently less than 6,000 Cotton-top Tamarins left in the wild.

Securing key forest habitat for Cotton-top Tamarins will also contribute to the long-term survival of other species native to this region, including Red Howler Monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Yellow-striped Poison Frogs, Shaw’s Dark Ground Snakes and Northern Tamanduas. Rainforest Trust’s local partner has confirmed through camera trap images the presence of Ocelots, Red Brocket Deer, Tayras, Central American Agoutis and Nine-banded Armadillos.

Challenges

  • Cattle ranching. Photo by Václav Synáček
Cattle ranching and agricultural activities that cause deforestation are the main threats to forest conservation in the San Juan Nepomuceno area. It is critical that these properties are secured before further deforestation can occur and negatively impact the Critically Endangered Cotton-top Tamarin population.

Communities

  • Students visiting Proyecto Titi’s reserve. Photo by Proyecto Titi

The property to be purchased is privately owned and currently there are no community members living on the land. The property has a house with basic facilities, which the landowner’s family uses when they visit the property to oversee fruit plantings. Our partner hopes to turn the house into a field station for the patrol team.

The long-term strategy for protecting the tamarin involves partnering with local communities and the Sanctuary Los Colorados’ staff to create forest corridors that connect the sanctuary and the property proposed to be purchased to other forest fragments present around this protected area.

Solutions

  • Staff conducting fieldwork. Photo by Proyecto Titi

Rainforest Trust and local partner are working to purchase a strategic property that will expand Los Titíes de San Juan Reserve and strengthen conservation efforts of the adjacent government-designated wildlife sanctuary. This property is key to connecting the sanctuary with other forest fragments to the southwest of this area. Our local partner is implementing an integrated conservation approach that includes field research, forest protection and connectivity, education and community empowerment to safeguard Critically Endangered Cotton-top Tamarins as well as the region’s other threatened wildlife. Creating and maintaining forest connectivity is a major focus of the reserve’s management plan in order to ensure the long-term viability of the Cotton-top Tamarin population.

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