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

Studying An Elusive Primate

Given the small size of callitrichids, it is very difficult to locate and follow known individuals in the wild. Techniques developed by the staff of Proyecto Tití allow the field researchers to identify individual animals and locate groups with ease. Animals are captured twice a year, anesthetized, and marked with various bright colors using hair dye. The hair dye allows for identification through dense vegetation, and withstands up to 6 months of exposure to intense rainy seasons.


The dominant male in each group is also fitted with a radio transmitter in a backpack harness which allow for ease in locating the animals with telemetry (Telonics, Inc., Mesa, AZ). The transmitter weighs less than 3% of a tamarin’s body weight, and has a battery life of about 9 months. The backpack-style harness, attached with a shoelace, allows the male to carry the transmitter on the middle of its back, such that it does not interfere with carrying infants. The system also fits snuggly to minimize the possibility of becoming entangled in branches. We have used several models of VHF transmitters over the years as the technology continues to improve with each new modification.


Using a Telonics TR-2 receiver and an RA-2A two-element directional antenna, the tamarins are located by the observer moving in the direction of the signal frequency, which emanates from the target male’s transmitter, until the group is sighted. A signal is typically received to within a range of 800 m. To learn more about attaching a transmitter please see our publication Savage, A., Giraldo, L.H., Blumer, E.S, Soto, L.H., Burger, W.T., Snowdon, C.T. Field techniques for monitoring cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus) in Colombia. American Journal of Primatology. 31:189-196, 1993.


Watch a video of a male with a transmitter moving through the trees. Can you see the transmitter?

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