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viernes, 17 de agosto de 2012

Capuchins and Tayras in the Atlantic Forest

Yesterday, I ventured deep into the Atlantic forest following Jonny Miller on a hunt to find the group of Capuchin monkeys that live and feed in the area. Amazingly, just fifteen minutes after entering Jonny’s favorite trail, he stops and whispers back to me, “Do you see?” My immediate reaction was “See what?” but then my eyes caught a flash of motion in the trees just thirty meters ahead of us. There was a group of at least 6 Capuchins travelling through the canopy over our heads. The monkeys had been well aware of our approach and a few of them chirped loudly as soon as they realized we’d seen them. They slowly began moving away, always in a single file line, usually following the exact same path using the same branches as those ahead of them. We were able to follow them through our matrix of amazingly well cut trails (thanks Rosemary). We would lose them for a few moments just to turn a corner and hear the crashing of nearby branches as they leapt from tree to tree. Jonny, after more than 6 months on the primate project, has become adept at knowing where and how the monkeys will move after being spotted. He was able to predict their behavior and enabled us to follow them for nearly a full hour before they lost us. After searching around for another hour or so, occasionally stopping to admire a colorful beetle or caterpillar, we decided to give up our search and begin cutting a new trail. Jonny knew of a place down towards a water source that he wanted a path because frequently the capuchins move away in that direction and the undergrowth was too thick to follow them through. Mina, a new volunteer, joined us as we began cutting the new trail and quickly ran into a boggy area that surrounds the majority of natural springs in the forest. While resting, Jonny again turned to me and asked “Did you hear that?” I shrugged my shoulders and asked “Hear what?” But then to my surprise I looked out through a clearing and saw a smaller group of capuchins perched in a tree looking at me. As they slowly moved away, Jonny attempted to move around to cut them off. At that time, Mina and I stayed put and began hearing a strange huffing/hissing sound and to our surprise a TAYRA climbed up a tree ten feet in front us. It scurried up the tree pursuing the capuchins but after catching sight of me and Mina, began hissing and snorting at us. Joe

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