Uakari Classification and Evolution
The Uakari pronounced "wakari", is a small species of monkey, native to the tropical rainforests of South America, where they tend to be found in moist jungle that is close to water. The Uakari is most well-known for it's naked face which most commonly ranges from pink to deep red in colour. There are four distinct species of Uakari, which are the Red (Bald) Uakari, the Black-Headed Uakari, the Ayres Black Uakari and the Neblina Uakari, all of which are very similar in appearance but differ somewhat in fur colour and location.
Uakari Anatomy and Appearance
The Uakari is a small sized primate growing to an average of 45cm in length, and weighing around 3kg. The tail of the Uakari is very short relative to it's body size, and particularly small compared to those of other South American monkey species. The fur that covers the Uakari's body is long and coarse and tends to vary in colour, from red, to brown, to black, to white, depending on the species. The hairless face of the Uakari is their most distinctive feature, and can be deep red in colour in some individuals (although it generally ranges from pink to red, and can be paler or even black in some species). Their hands and feet are strong and agile with their opposable thumbs allowing the Uakari to hold onto fruits and tree branches.
Uakari Distribution and Habitat
The Uakari is found inhabiting moist, tropical rainforest only in the Amazon River Basin, throughout Brazil and Peru, and in parts of southern Columbia. The Uakari is generally found in jungles that fringe fresh water sources such as streams, small rivers and lakes. They prefer part-flooded forest that is flooded either permanently or on a seasonal basis though, to areas of rainforest that line large rivers.
Uakari Behaviour and Lifestyle
Unlike numerous other monkey species, the Uakari does not use it's short tail to hang from the trees or to help it when jumping, although it is still useful for balance. They spend much of their time high in the canopy and jump from tree to tree just using their strong arms and legs. Like many primates however, the Uakari is known to walk on all four limbs on it's rare trips down to the forest floor. The Uakari lives in troops in their jungle environment that usually contain between 10 and 30 members (although they can be up to 100 strong).
Uakari Reproduction and Life Cycles
The Uakari tends to breed between the months of October and May, when the females release and attractive scent to attract a mate. Once mated, the female Uakari gives birth to a single infant, after a gestation period that is still unknown, but she can do so every two years. The baby Uakari's are incredibly small and vulnerable at birth, clinging to their mother for their first few months, and feeding only on her milk. They are weaned at an average age of four months old when they begin to forage with the troop for soft fruits and seed pods. The Uakari tends to live for about 20 years in the wild.
Uakari Diet and Prey
Like many other primates, the Uakari has an omnivorous diet and therefore consumes a combination of both plant material and small animals. Despite this, the Uakari primarily eats fruit from the surrounding trees, along with leaves and Insects to supplement their diet. The Uakari gets the majority of it's food from high up in the canopy but will forage on the forest floor for seeds, roots and Lizards when food is scarce in the trees.
Uakari Predators and Threats
Living high up in the forest canopy, and occupying these areas in sometimes quite large groups, the Uakari has few predators with the biggest threat being Birds Of Prey. Other tree dwelling species such as Snakes and larger Monkeys also prey on the Uakari, and more particularly, their young. Humans are however, the Uakari's biggest threat as they have been hunted for food by the native people through much of their natural range.
Uakari Conservation Status and Life Today
Today, although the different Uakari species are all classified by the IUCN slightly differently, they are generally considered to be animals that are Vulnerable in their natural environment. Hunting by indigenous people and habitat loss to logging, are thought to be the two main reasons for their ever-declining population numbers, as they are now found in smaller and more isolated pockets of their natural habitats.