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Species Spotlight: Brown-headed Spider Monkey

One of the last populations of the critically endangered and declining Brown-headed Spider Monkey is found within the Los Cedros Reserve. We have a unique opportunity to help protect them.
Brown headed spider monkey credit Etienne Littlefair

The Brown-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps fusciceps) is one of the most endangered primates in the world with their population being estimated at just 250 individuals. We are extremely lucky to be able to help protect one of their last remaining populations within the Los Cedros Reserve.

The critically endangered [1] Brown-headed Spider Monkey is endemic to the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena hotspot in the western lowlands of Ecuador – this region is a spectacular habitat featuring exceptional levels of biodiversity and endemism. However, the area has also witnessed vast and extensive habitat destruction, driving many of the species who rely on this habitat to the brink of extinction.

Over the last 45 years, the number of Brown-headed Spider Monkeys has decreased by over 80% [2], leaving the remaining populations small and fragmented. The Brown-headed Spider Monkey thrives in well-connected, undisturbed forests away from human settlements. Deforestation and other severe threats, such as hunting and mining, has isolated populations of Ateles f. fusciceps, continuing to drive significant declines in their populations.

As well as being charming animals, Brown-headed Spider Monkeys play a vital role within their habitat – dispersing seeds as they travel through the forest. In doing this, they maintain forest diversity and allow their home to grow. Without them, the region would see much lower biodiversity, changing this incredible Chocó ecosystem beyond recognition.

By actively supporting the conservation of the Los Cedros Reserve, we’re in the unique position of being able to help protect the Brown-headed Spider Monkey as well as the habitat that so many other endangered species rely on. We need your help to do this so please donate today.

[1] Moscoso, P., Link, A., de la Torre, S., Shanee, S. & Cortes-Ortíz, L. 2021. Ateles fusciceps ssp. fusciceps (amended version of 2020 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T39922A191687911.

[2] Tirira, D. 2004. Present status of the brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps Gray, 1866) (Primates: Atelidae) in Ecuador. Lyonia 6:1–8.