As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Anne Savage had a dream of starting the first conservation program for cotton-top tamarins in Colombia. As a student of Dr. Charles Snowdon, she began to realize her dream by starting the first long-term field research program in Colombia in 1987. She began her studies of cotton-top tamarins in Colosó, at INDERENA's primate field station Proyecto Primates. While important long-term field data was collected for the first time on cotton-top tamarins, it became apparent to Anne that scientific studies alone were not sufficient to save cotton-top tamarins. If conservation efforts to save cotton-top tamarins from extinction were going to be successful, she needed to involve local communities who were directly responsible for competing for the same resources that cotton-tops needed for survival and she needed to find leaders in Colombia that would champion this cause.
The first informal education programs began in 1987 as children from the local school in Colosó received their first information about the importance of saving cotton-tops and how they could help. Anne led field trips to the field station and to the forest to meet the cotton-tops and the students could see first-hand how important it was to was to protect the forests for these amazing animals. As Anne taught the children about conservation, she also recognized the need to help people reduce the amount of forest resources that were consumed leading to our commitment to creating sustainable alternatives for communities. Our first program to reduce the use of firewood by using bindes, small cook stoves made from clay was launched and today our programs have grown to incorporate a variety of methods to engage communities in efforts to reduce their impacts on the surrounding forests.
Anne recruited several Colombian biologists to work with Proyecto Tití, most notably Luis Soto, who recently retired but still continues to serve as Conservation Biologist Emeritus, and worked to build a team of Colombians leaders, biologists, educators, and influencers that would go on to lead one of Colombia's most successful and influential conservation programs for cotton-top tamarins. In 1999, we moved our field program to Santa Catalina and worked in close partnership with many communities in the departments of Atlántico and Bolivar as our education and community programs continued to grow and prosper. Partnerships were developed with several organizations in Colombia until we formed our US 501c3 Proyecto Titi, Inc in 2004 with Dr. Anne Savage as Executive Director. Our quest to find a leader who could create our Colombian non-profit organization, Fundación Proyecto Tití, and lead this organization into the next phase of major growth was achieved when we met Rosamira Guillen, the former director of the Barranquilla Zoo. In 2005, Rosamira joined our team as the Executive Director of Fundación Proyecto Tití and has been responsible for the impressive growth of our programs and national and international recognition Proyecto Tití has garnered over the years for our efforts to protect cotton-top tamarins. Under Rosamira's direction, Proyecto Tití’s education programs have expanded to more communities. In addition, new community initiatives have been launched, scientific research has been used to influence Colombian conservation policy, new partnerships have been created with organizations in Colombia, and habitat protection and forest restoration has become an important aspect of the long-term success of conservation efforts for cotton-top tamarins.