Factors in 2012 Endangering Costa Rican Monkeys
Any trip to Costa Rica will not be complete without watching the famed monkeys of the country. Costa Rica is blessed with four species of monkeys- capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and the squirrel monkeys. These monkeys can be seen in places where these animals are cared for, such as the Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park and the Chirripo National Park. However, monkey population has significantly been threatened in recent years by various factors such as deforestation, illegal hunting and urbanization.
Like most countries around the world, the forest cover of Costa Rica has been seriously reduced in recent years. Curiously, despite having numerous protected parks, Costa Rica has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. In 2007, the rate was at an astonishing 3.9%. The country had also lost nearly a third of its rainforests in nearly 40 years, from 1950 to 1988. It is no secret that monkeys live in the forests, and with deforestation continuing to rear its ugly head, monkey population has been threatened in the past few decades.
The squirrel monkey is perhaps one of the most badly-hit monkey species no thanks to the deforestation problem in Costa Rica. In the 1970s, more than 200,000 squirrel monkeys were estimated to be living in the Costa Rican rainforests. But now, the squirrel monkey in the country is believed to be less than 5,000 due to the massive deforestation.
Deforestation not only threatens Costa Rica’s monkeys because it deprives them of a living space. Deforestation likewise kills the sources of food of the monkeys, further making it difficult for the animals to survive.
Hunting of monkeys in Costa Rica may be forbidden yet this has not prevented many unscrupulous traders from engaging in this trade. Illegal hunting and captivity of wild animals in Costa Rico is one booming albeit underground activity. Monkeys in Costa Rica are used for various purposes, such as pets and for medical purposes. The prices of monkey smuggled out of Costa Rica may vary, although some sources note that squirrel monkeys are sold for as low as US$ 50 a piece.
Urbanization has led to the installation of power lines in various parts of the country. However, much of Costa Rica’s power lines are uninsulated. Monkeys, like other wild animals in Costa Rica, have been victimized by exposed power lines. Uninsulated power lines can cause injury and death to monkeys that come in contact with these power lines. As Costa Rica’s economy further accelerates, even the remotest villages are now connected with electricity through power lines. However, the lack of insulation of these power lines has been another threat to monkeys that find themselves electrocuted or injured after coming in contact with uninsulated electrical wires.
Urban development has also lead to the rise of tourist hotels and condominiums in areas where monkeys used to live in Costa Rica. Urban development has drastically reduced the natural habitat of the monkeys while preventing genetic biodiversity essential in keeping the monkeys healthy.
Even the rising tourism industry in Costa Rica has been partly blamed for the declining monkey population in the country. Junk food items such as corn chips given by tourists to monkeys stationed in tourist spots in the country are said to be detrimental to the health of the animals.
These are just some of the current factors that have been pointed out as endangering the monkey population in Costa Rica. Other factors that have also been discussed as threatening to Costa Rica monkeys are shifts in weather patterns and persecution by farmers who believe monkeys are pests to their plantations.