LATIN NAMEAlouatta caraya
CONSERVATION STATUSLeast Concern
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About the Howler Monkey
One of the loudest animals in the world, male and female Howler Monkeys can be easily distinguished from each other because of their different colour coats. The male is black whereas his female counterpart and young (at least initially) are a golden brown colour. This variation is believed to be for survival, allowing the female and newborns to blend into their forest home more easily.
Native to Bolivia, Paraguay, southern Brazil and northern Argentina, the monkey is arboreal, spending most of its time up in the tree canopy feeding, partaking in social activities and resting along with up to 30 other individuals. It rarely ventures down to the forest floor.
Howlers possess the characteristic prehensile tail that is critical for so many New World monkeys. It’s used for balance and grip during active movement and as an anchor while resting on trees.
Due to the high leaf content of the Black Howler Monkey’s diet, they rest for up to 70% of the day while digesting the large amount of plant material they consume. The monkey eats more leaves than any other similar species, an adaptation that has been vital to its survival as it can eat older leaves as well as young, less fibrous material.
Together with a number of other South American primates, the status of the Black Howler Monkey is of Least Concern. It has a large presence in several national parks and – when compared to similar species – possesses an important ability to adapt to new and fragmented habitats. However, its population numbers are on the decline because of habitat loss and hunting.
Did You Know?
As the name suggests, the Black Howler Monkey is a vociferous animal and their calls can be heard clearly up to three miles away. The Howler’s specialised voice box allows it to expand and amplify sounds and its territorial boundaries in the wild are mapped out by howling sessions with neighbouring troops.
The Fota Connection.
Fota’s Howler Monkeys are a relatively new species to the Park, having arrived in 2010. Pedro came from France, while Mo’s journey from England was held up for two months because of the volcanic ash cloud crisis that halted all air travel for a time that year.
The first Howler Monkey baby, Jamie, to be born in Cork arrived the following year. A unique species to Fota – in that Howlers are not afraid to swim – their island is one of the few areas in the Park to have an electric fence. Quite vocal in the wild, the Park’s train can often set off a howling session between the dominant mating pair..
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