northern muriqui monkey

Securing a Future for the World’s Most Peaceful Primate

There’s something particularly striking about the Northern Muriqui Monkey and it’s not just the animal’s beautiful long arms and legs, or graceful way it swings through the treetops. It’s the way they relate to one another: they are the most peaceful primates in the world, living in uniquely egalitarian societies where relationships between males and females are free of conflict, and instead full of hugs.

Muriquis have made a reputation for themselves as the planet’s most peaceful primate. (Photo by Carla Possamai)

Unfortunately, the Northern Muriqui is one of the most Critically Endangered primates on Earth. Fewer than 1,000 individuals are left in only a dozen remaining fragments of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, considered one of the top five “hottest” hotspots for biodiversity. By the 1980s, less than 5% of southeastern Brazil’s Atlantic Forest remained intact. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the species as Critically Endangered in large part because of habitat destruction.

Since 1983, the Muriqui Project of Caratinga, directed by Karen Strier, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Re:wild associate scientist, has been working with Brazilian students and colleagues in one of the last remaining strongholds for Northern Muriquis: a privately owned, federally protected reserve called RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala, near the Brazilian city of Caratinga. Her pioneering studies of the behavioral ecology, reproductive biology and life histories of muriquis have advanced our scientific understanding of primates and are contributing directly to the conservation and management of this Critically Endangered species and its habitat.

Muriqui habitat at the privately owned, federally protected reserve called RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala. (Photo by Pablo Fernicola)

Today 250 individual muriquis live at RPPN-FMA—up from 50 in 1983—and make up one-fourth of the entire Northern Muriqui Monkey population. These results from the Muriqui Project of Caratinga are encouraging. Re:wild has teamed up with Strier and the Brazilian NGOs based in Caratinga not only to continue to protect the muriqui population here, but also to expand these efforts to bolster the global population.

Conserving Muriquis in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest

Muriquis feeding on small white fruit growing on bushes – Matao Group

Re:wild partners with the Muriqui Project of Caratinga and non-profit Preserve Muriqui to secure funding and resources not only for conservation of the Caratinga Muriqui population, but to protect the charismatic species as a whole across the country with Brazilian non-profit Muriqui Instituto de Biodiversidade and additional partners. Together our goals include to:

  • Expand ongoing natural regeneration of the forest around the Caratinga reserve to increase the area of suitable habitat for the muriqui and establish connectivity with other forest fragments.

  • Continue to preserve and manage all conservation, research and educational activities at the RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala.

  • Ensure the ecological and genetic diversity of the entire population of the species required for the Northern Muriqui to adapt in a rapidly changing world.

  • Expand and manage the regeneration and restoration of Brazil’s larger Atlantic forest and the conservation, research, and educational activities it supports.

  • Save the world’s most peaceful primate for perpetuity.

Wild Facts

  • Muriquis are South America’s largest monkeys.

  • Researchers at the Muriqui Project of Caratinga know each of the individual 250 muriqui monkeys by name at the reserve.

  • The two species of muriqui--the Northern Muriqui Monkey and Southern Muriqui Monkey--are geographically isolated.

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Solutions

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the interrelated crises of wildlife extinctions, climate change and pandemics. Re:wild works with local and Indigenous communities, conservation partners, governments and others to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Our Northern Muriqui Monkey conservation approach is based primarily in the following solution:

protected area management

Improving the way protected and conserved areas are managed—involving communities, Indigenous peoples, sociology, economics, business management, and wildlife crime prevention—to ensure a safer future for biodiversity and local communities.

A Hug a Day

A Hug a Day

Northern Muriqui Monkeys are the most peaceful primates in the world, living in uniquely egalitarian societies where relationships between males and females are free of conflict, and instead full of hugs.

# of individuals:

About 1,000

IUCN Red List Status

Critically Endangered

Population trend:

Declining

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