Proyecto Titi | Conserving Colombia's Wildlife
Proyecto Tití:
Conserving the
Cotton-top Tamarin
in Colombia
Cotton-top Tamarin
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Project Justification

Colombia harbors a greater concentration of species per unit area than any other country, but is among the top ten countries in terms of deforestation, losing more than 4000 km2 annually (Mast et al. 1993; Myers 1989). The majority of the forest within the tamarin’s range has been cleared for agriculture or ranching. Remaining forest patches occur on agriculturally-unfit land. There are currently two national parks and one protected reserve within the historic range of the cotton-top tamarin. Paramillo National Park, Santuary Los Colorados and Montes de Maria Reserve have lost 42%, 71%, and 70% of their forested areas, respectively, since inception of protected status (Miller, et al., 2004).

Further threat lies in the imminent flooding of the forest for hydroelectric projects. One project, the Urra I Dam, flooded more than 7,000 hectares of primary and secondary forest lying within Parramillo National Park, one of the last sanctuaries for the tamarin. Urra II is pending, higher in the watershed, which would flood an additional 47,000 hectares. Colombia has lost one third of its forest and continues to at 1.8% per year, a trend largely driven by a population growth rate of 1.97% per year.

Large-scale forest clearance may begin as selective removal for understory plants, but this too may adversely effect cotton-tops which spend a great deal of time in the lower forest (Mast et al. 1993). As human population density increases, however, selective plant removal and shifting cultivation progress to total forest destruction for agriculture and cattle pastures. Additionally, the forest-to-pasture conversion process is the preferred way to privatize publicly owned lands in Colombia.

With cotton-top tamarins found only in the northwest region of Colombia, efforts to protect the remaining tropical forest habitat is essential to their future survival. Proyecto Tití is committed to making the conservation of the cotton-top tamarin a top priority.

 

   Photograph by Fredy Gomez

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