Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monkey Real Estate

I talk lots about Yvaga Guazu and my titi territory, but I've never really taken the time to explain our field site.  Yvaga Guazu is an ecological/nature park located only a few kilometers outside the city of Santa Cruz, and although it's not very big, and although it's surrounded by busy roads/chicken farms/houses, it's still home to about 5 or 6 Calicebus donacophilus families.  The park is kind of divided into two halves.  The first half is completely landscaped and full of walking trails and beautiful flowers.  This is the home to one titi family - GE - a family much more habituated than the others, given their close proximity and constant association with humans (both Yvaga Guazu workers and Yvaga Guazu visitors).  The second half, home to all the other titis, possesses a more 'natural quality.'  And by that I mean everything is overgrown and following monkeys means constantly tripping over vines.  There are a few main trails that surround the majority of the territories, and a few trails that we cut through the territories, making it possible to observe and follow our monkeys from a respectable distance.  The two halves of Yvaga Guazu are unofficially divided by a soccer field.  Lots of school groups visit the park during the week, and while I'm all about educating the next generation, bunches of running/screaming children do make it a little difficult to track down our monkey groups.  Right next to the soccer field is a small hut with a few tables and chairs.  The perfect lunch spot.

I may be slightly biased, but I think my monkeys have one of the best, if not the best territory.  The GN group occupies an area close to the soccer field and they rarely encounter other groups.  Most of the other families have overlapping territories near the back of Yvaga Guazu, close to the mango patch.  Monkeys love mangos.  And I don't blame them.  Mangos are awesome.  But if I were a monkey, I'd much rather hang out in a much less populated least until the mangos are ripe.  Even though it's rare to see another titi family in my neighborhood, I do, on occasion, encounter other monkey species.  Last week, I ran into a small group of Saimiri (squirrel monkeys), and earlier this morning, I noticed a few Aotus (night monkeys) hanging around near one of my favorite, freshly macheted trails.

Yvaga Guazu is a beautiful place and I am very much enjoying my time here....even though the 30 minute taxi/bus commute leaves much to be desired.  The buses are usually crowded or hot.  Mostly both.  And our taxi driver sometimes doesn't see those impending speed-bumps, resulting in a few bumps and bruises from inside the cab.  But minor transportation inconveniences are a small price to pay to work everyday in a place like this.  I'm currently sitting at the far northwest corner of my family's territory, patiently/not so patiently waiting for them to re-enter Yvaga Guazu over the fence they crossed about an hour ago.  Sneaky little monkeys decided to go the one way I couldn't follow them.  So here I will sit.  And here I will wait....comfortably reclined against one of my new favorite trees.

FUN SCIENCE FACT #13:  An iguana always lands on its feet.  Take that, Felidae.

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