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Date: February 07, 2008 08:16PM
monkey, Cacajao Ayresi discovered by Dr Jean Boubli, of the Auckland
University's Department of Anthropology, Auckland, Tuesday, February 05, 2008.
Credit:NZPA / Italo Mourthe **FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE** **BEST AVAILABLE
Auckland primatologist discovers new monkey in Amazon
5 February 2008
A primatologist at The University of Auckland has discovered a new species of
monkey living in north-western Amazonia.
Dr Jean Boubli, of the University’s Department of Anthropology, found the
monkey while undertaking field work in the Aracá River, a left bank tributary
of the Negro River, Amazonas, Brazil.
Named Cacajao ayresi, the black uakari monkey belongs to a species unknown to
science until recently. Black uakaris are specialised seed-eating pithecine
primates that inhabit the remote areas of the Negro and Orinoco river basins and
parts of the Pantepui mountains including Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. This
newly-discovered primate is named in honour of Brazilian biologist Marcio Ayres,
who pioneered field studies on uakaris.
The discovery is a result of a series of surveys conducted by Dr Boubli from
1991-2007 which focussed on the little-known and difficult-to-access Pantepui
region of Brazil. Until now, only one species of black uakari was recognised,
Cacajao melanocephalus, with two subspecies, C. m. melanocephalus and C. m.
Dr Boubli, the University’s only primatologist, says this latest discovery is
one of the most exciting and important of his career. He credits local guides
for providing insight into the gigantic puzzle that is the biogeography of
primates of the Rio Negro basin.
Dr Boubli also hopes the discovery will help encourage conservation activities
in the Amazon region. He says this new uakari species faces a number of
life-threatening risks: it has a limited geographic distribution, a low
population density and is vulnerable to regional epidemics, droughts, fires and
global warming. The fact that Ayres’ uakari occurs in public land that is
still not protected adds more uncertainty to its long term survival. Throughout
Northern Amazonia, uakaris are regularly eaten by local indigenous peoples.
Dr Boubli says the next step is to conduct a detailed ecological and behavioural
study of Ayres’ uakari in order to design an effective management plan for
The findings are outlined in a forthcoming publication in the International
Journal of Primatology (July 2008), as well as in a recent issue of New
Scientist (January 2008). Along with collaborators Drs. Maria da Silva, Manuela
Amado, Francisco Pontual, Tomas Hrbez and Izeni Farias, Dr Boubli describes the
new Ayres uakari and also argues that the two previously known subspecies are in
fact full species, thus raising to three the number of known black uakari