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Into the jungle with biologist Cajum to encounter monkeys.

Spider Monkeys are vital keystone species in tropical rainforests and jungles playing a critical role in preserving ecosystem balance, diversity, and overall health. Protecting their habitats and populations is essential for their well-being and that of the rainforests they call home.

My journey of understanding the significance of spider monkeys began with a childhood friend who owned a pet monkey named Tarzan. Without us knowing we had inadvertently become a part of the illegal wildlife trade. As I grew up and became more interested in conservation, I realized that Tarzan's mother had likely been killed by poachers when he was just a baby, setting off a chain of illegal trafficking. This revelation left me deeply unsettled.

- Lorena Garal

Determined to learn more, I embarked on a journey to the southeast of Mexico, where I met biologist Ceci Cajum and Manuel, a local guide from Punta Laguna community, who are dedicated to spider monkey conservation. Together with them me and my team Pablosky and Trip in Mexico ventured into the jungle in search of spider monkeys to observe them in their natural habitat.

®Video by Trip in Mexico and Pablosky for Wimok

Spider monkeys play a critical role in the rainforest ecosystem and jungles by serving as key seed dispersers. Without them, reforesting the jungle efficiently becomes challenging, jeopardizing its survival. They have a diverse diet that includes various fruits, and the seeds they consume are spread throughout the jungle as they move and defecate. This aids in preserving biodiversity and revitalizing plant species, increasing the likelihood of new tree growth.

These primates serve as indicator species, helping biologists like Ceci monitor jungles health and assess the impact of habitat loss and human activities. Additionally, as primates, spider monkeys play a role in carbon sequestration, contributing to climate change mitigation.


This experience has been one of the of the most heartwarming encounters of my life. Me and my team, Pabloski and Trip in Mexico, embarked on a hike in a jungle in Mexico, armed only with our cameras and water bottles. After about half an hour of following our guides, Ceci and Manuel, they subtly guided our attention toward the trees. There, hidden behind branches and leaves, we spotted our first group of monkeys, including mothers and their babies. At that moment, I couldn't help but reflect on Tarzan's fate, knowing that he might have shared a similar beginning before being captured and sold to my friend. Ceci then enlightened us about the grim reality of illegal trafficking, which is one of the primary threats to spider monkeys.

During our hike, Ceci and Manuel offered in-depth insights into the species, explaining their familial dynamics and foraging behaviors. We even had the chance to observe them feasting on various types of fruits, including some of the 103 different varieties they consume. As we witnessed their behaviors, it became evident how young monkeys learn from their mothers and gain a deep understanding of their surroundings, including predicting weather changes.

If you find these animals charming and understand their importance in preserving jungles and rainforests, you might want to continue reading. I will share the primary reasons they are endangered and a few simple ideas to help protect them.

Spider monkeys are endangered for two main reasons:

1. Illegal Animal Trafficking: Without even knowing some of us are/have been part of the problem when we pay for pictures with monkeys or other wildlife. Poachers hunt these animals in their habitats, killing mothers to capture their babies for the illegal wildlife trade. These young animals endure suffering as they are sold to shops or individuals as pets. By purchasing such services or supporting them, we perpetuate poaching and cruelty.

Solution: Simply say NO and refuse to take pictures with wild animals or buy them as pets. By abstaining from these activities, we can reduce demand, leading to a decline in the hunting and trafficking of these animals.

2. Habitat Reduction: Human expansion has led to the destruction of natural habitats. The construction of houses, hotels, and parks has devastated thousands of hectares, leaving numerous species without shelter and sustenance.

Solution: As consumers, we can demand more responsible housing development and construction practices. By purchasing less and advocating for eco-friendly solutions, we can make a difference.

No matter how distant these ecosystems may seem , our actions, impact jungles, oceans, mountains, and wildlife. Choosing to live in a more responsible way, consume mindfully, respect animal spaces, and support conservation experts are essential steps towards preserving these precious ecosystems and the remarkable creatures that inhabit them.

- Lorena Garal

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