A long ride for a white moustache

I am a Crees Manu Conservation Intern at the Manu Learning Centre. Along with other volunteers, we travelled five hours by boat through the Alto Madre de Dios and the Manu River. Inside this natural protected area, we found very special species.

It was our third day, and it was warm and sunny when we decided to walk along the surrounding trails. We decided to walk along the surrounding trails. We were already walking for a long time, and took a break to drink water. We noticed a small blurry shape walking along the branches beside us, we heard the leaves falling to the floor and the sound of an animal chewing. Then, we spotted a small, long-tailed primate with two long white tufts of hairs hanging down from its head. It was the Emperor Tamarin!

Its scientific name is Saguinus imperator, and it is considered a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Its heavily furred tail is a reddish-brown colour, and it is non-prehensile. Its white, curly-ended moustache of both males and females, contrasts with their black face following a speckled red or grey-brown body. They feed on fruits during the wet season and flower nectar or tree sap in the dry season. 

It often forms a mixed troop with related species, such as the Saddleback Tamarin. Each species responds to the other’s alarm calls if a predator is detected nearby. It is usually challenging to spot them because they generally live very high in the trees. This sighting was especially exciting since this species cannot be found at higher altitudes in Manu!

BS Environmental Science – Blanca Ortiz Bocos – Conservation Intern