At least eight species of monkey are known to inhabit the lowland tropical forests of Tambopata National Reserve. Of those eight species, five can be observed regularly in the trees that surround Tambopata Ecolodge. They include the saddleback tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis), dusky titi monkey (Callicebus moluch), squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus boliviensis), brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella), and night monkey (Aotus nigriceps). And in the forests of the Ecolodge’s own Private Conservation Area, red howler monkeys are known to roam through the high forest canopy, from where they emit their famously powerful calls.
Species of tamarin monkey are found in the tropical forests of the Americas all the way from Central America to the central part of South America. They are an arboreal species, spending almost their entire lives high above the forest floor.
Tamarin monkeys are active during the daytime, running and leaping through the trees in large troops. While these troops may be composed of the members of one or more families, and number up to forty individuals, in Tambopata and other parts of the Amazon basin it is more common to see tamarin monkeys in groups of between three and twelve members. These small groups tend to be composed of a breeding female, one or usually more males, and the family’s offspring. In most tamarin species, a female will mate with several males, in a practice known as polyandry.
Individual groups of tamarin monkeys can range over territories composed of more than one hundred hectares, as they forage for insects and fruits. Across their natural range, different species of tamarin monkey vary enormously in appearance. While many tamarins share the similar trait of mustache-like facial hair, across different species tamarin monkeys vary in color from black to brown and white. Species of tamarin also vary in size, with their bodies –excluding their long tails- ranging from around 13 to 30 (5 to 12 inches) in length. They can weigh anything from 220 to 900 grams (8 to 32 ounces).
Tamarin monkeys are omnivores. They will feed on fruit, leaves, arthropods, small vertebrates such as tree frogs, and even forage for eggs. Typically, troops of tamarins will spend practically their entire day roaming the treetops in search of food. While foraging, tamarin monkeys’ small size means that they are vulnerable to predators, particularly birds of prey such as the harpy eagle. In addition to birds and some large mammals, tamarin monkeys’ other predators include snakes. The range of vocalizations emitted by tamarins incorporates calls associated with alarm and alliances.
The species of tamarin monkey seen often in the lowland tropical forests of Tambopata National Reserve is the saddleback tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis), also known as the brown-mantled tamarin.
In common with other tamarin species, saddleback tamarins are small, squirrel-sized monkeys, measuring between 17 and 25 centimeters in length. They are easily recognizable in the wild due to their black bodies, small pointed ears, and the brown mantle covering their lower back and hind legs.
Saddleback tamarins often share their range with pygmy marmosets. These tiny monkeys are specialist tree gum feeders, and tamarins have been known to plunder the sap holes produced by their pygmy marmoset cousins.