Cotton-top Tamarin Project

The Cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is one of the most endangered primates in the world. The species was declared endangered in 1973 following an exportation of 20,000-40,000 tamarins to the United States for biomedical research scopes. In 2008 it was declared critically endangered by the IUCN Primate Specialist Group, and today the main threats to their survival are deforestation and pet trade in Colombia. Parco Natura Viva demonstrates its support to the conservation of this species by financially contributing to the Proyecto Tití, a multi-disciplinary programme in Colombia dedicate to the conservation of the cotton-top tamarin.
Parco Natura Viva supports Proyecto Tití is a multi-disciplinary conservation programme that deals with protection of the cotton-top tamarin in its natural habitat, and pursues this objective in different ways:
  • with field research to monitor and learn about the cotton-top tamarin in the wild, in order to understand what the necessary factors to its survival are;
  • protecting, restoring and connecting forests, so to increase the habitat range of the Cotton-top Tamarin;
  • educating and raising awareness of both local and international communities on the needs to protect this species;
  • involving local communities to achieve sustainable development compatible with the protection of the forests.
Making the conservation of natural resources economically feasible for local communities can not only guarantee the survival of the cotton-top tamarin, but also Colombia’s entire flora and fauna. The cotton-top tamarin can in fact represent a flagship species for the conservation of natural resources in Colombia.
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Throughout the years, Proyecto Tití has established two main action sites in the north-western region of Colombia: Atlántico and Bolívar. Between 2011 and 2018, 5,000 hectares of protected forest for the cotton-top tamarin were created in Atlántico and Bolívar, now protected under Colombian law and representing 6% of the remaining forests in the overall historical distribution of the Cotton-top Tamarin in Colombia.
In 2018, the cotton-top tamarin was also chosen as the mascot for the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, an international sports event held in Barranquilla. This brought great visibility and attention to the status in nature of the Cotton-top tamarin.
The cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is classified as “Critically Endangered” in the IUCN Red List. In the last 20 years 80% of the population has disappeared mainly due to deforestation. However, in the 70s and 80s this species was used greatly in biomedical research labs as the primary model for studies on the colonic adenocarcinoma.
Today deforestation is the main threat to tamarins’ extinction and most of the forest within their habitat distribution is destroyed for agricultural purposes, timber harvesting for the construction of houses and for charcoal production. Another important threat to their survival is the flooding of the forest for hydroelectric projects. One project flooded more than 7,000 hectares of primary and secondary forest of the Paramillo National Park, one of the last sanctuaries of this species of tamarin. Furthermore, local pet trade of this species is still active and causes further threats to the survival of the tamarins.
The efforts for the protection of these areas inhabited by the tamarins are essential to allow their future survival.
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Parco Natura Viva has successfully bred this species for years within the International EEP Programme. Now the park hosts two females, mother and daughter, that live in an exhibit in the area of America. The mother is one of the two female ancestors of the individuals born in the park and was taken from a biomedical research lab together with other tamarins.
They have both an external and internal exhibit and their diet comprise mainly fruits and insects like the diet they would have in nature. They are very active animals with a rapid metabolism and thus they consume a lot of energy.
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Parco Natura Viva celebrates every year the International Cotton-top Tamarin Day on the 15th of August. Parco Natura Viva supports Proyecto Tití in different ways:
  • directly financing the project and thus contributing to the realization of in situ research activities to increase the knowledge on the conservation status of the cotton-top tamarin, and supporting educational programmes for local communities;
  • raisings visitors’ awareness on the issues threatening the survival of neotropical species and promoting responsible behaviours;
  • organizing fundraising events aimed at making the cotton-top tamarin and its habitat known to the public.
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If you are interested in this project and you want to help saving the cotton-top tamarin and its habitat, there are different ways in which you can contribute. By participating to the activities organized by Parco Natura Viva, such as guided tours, educational workshops and the International Cotton-top Tamarin Day, you can learn more about this species and the threats to its survival, also learning what behaviours to adopt in everyday life to protect their habitat. By adopting the park’s cotton-top tamarin you will directly contribute to help finance this project; but even with your visit to the park you will be able to make a concrete contribution to conservation, since a percentage of the value of the admission ticket is always destined to in-situ conservation projects. Finally, by making other people aware of the problems of animals in the wild, you can actively help spread the knowledge and guarantee a future for the cotton-top tamarin in its natural environment.
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