PETEN, Guatemala—Thirteen spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi), an iconic species in Latin America, were released in the Yaxha Nakum Naranjo National Park, in Peten, Guatemala, after they were rescued from illegal trafficking and went through a rigorous rehabilitation process.
These mammals’ release resulted from a joint effort by non-governmental, non-profit organizations, Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre and Humane Society International/Latin America, who have been working together since 2007 in wildlife protection and conservation in Guatemala.
Under the guidance of the National Council for Protected Areas, ARCAS Wildlife Rescue Center and HSI staff facilitated the return of 13 spider monkeys to the forest; some, victims of wildlife trafficking and others, of negative interaction with human beings.
According to ARCAS director, Fernando Martinez, its rescue center carries out physical, medical and ethological rehabilitation of the different species that enter the facility as a result of illegal trafficking. ARCAS’ approach follows strict scientific management standards and results in animals being released in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
“The Rescue Center’s mission is to reinforce existing wildlife populations, to prevent the extinction of species, and thus ensuring that there are healthy populations capable of adapting and reproducing in their natural habitat,” Martinez said.
Grettel Delgadillo, deputy director for HSI/Latin America, explained that negative interactions between people and wildlife are becoming more frequent in Guatemala, as well as the illegal trafficking of animals such as spider monkeys.
“That is why at HSI/Latin America and ARCAS we work to ensure a successful rehabilitation of these animals and thus give them a second chance to live in freedom. Also, through different education and public awareness initiatives, we urge everyone to refrain from buying these animals as pets, to not purchase objects that contain parts or derivatives of wild animals, and to report to the authorities any suspicious activity regarding wildlife,” Delgadillo said.
The released spider monkeys will be monitored for six months, using telemetric collars and follow-up in the field.