Though it sometimes seems as if our world were entirely tamed, this is emphatically not the truth. Nowhere is this more clear than the depths of the Amazon rainforest, a region—though increasingly crisscrossed with roads, razed by loggers, and devastated by dams—considered the world’s most biodiverse, and the pride of Brazil.
More than 1200 species have been discovered in the Amazon over the past decade, one every three days, including the adorable Rio acari marmoset, Mura’s saddleback tamarin, the rather less inviting blue-fanged tarantula, and the colorful bubble-bottomed frog.
This year, yet another new monkey species was identified, a type of “titi,” or Callicebus monkey, a genus that includes at least 30 species of the smallest, and cutest, of the new world monkeys. In addition to their diminutive size (between a large squirrels and small cat), they are uncharacteristically cuddly, even by monkey standards. Couples, which often sit with their tales intertwined, are among the only primates considered monogamous (gibbons, not humans, are the other). Fathers also take on over half the care of infants, which purr like kittens. Five titi species have been discovered in the Amazon since 2002, including this latest addition to the family tree, Callicebus caquetensis.
“This incredibly exciting discovery shows just how much we still have to learn from the Amazon,” said Meg Symington, Director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Amazon Program. “WWF has been working with the government of Brazil to increase protection and improve management for the Amazon so that species like this, and thousands of others, don’t disappear before we even know about them.”
The scientists who discovered the new species estimate that about 250 individuals survive in what they call the deforestation crescent, a region in the wild frontier of Mato Grosso State where new roads and little regulation or oversight have conspired to create lawless tracts of biofuels farms and clear-cut forests. Hence this 950km (590-mile) scientific expedition into the Guariba-Roosevelt Reserve.
While increased interest from travelers always gives conservation efforts a boost, this region isn’t for the average tourist. The Guariba-Roosevelt Reserve doesn’t seem to be accessible on regular tours, and the closest “major” city, Puerto Velho, is a three-day public boat ride from Manaus, with a handful of inexpensive hotels that are purportedly able to arrange guides for the immediate region.
If you’re up to the challenge, however, and succeed in your search for a glimpse of these rare and endangered tiny titis, let us know how your personal expedition went!