Bearded saki (Chiropotes satanas)

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Bearded saki male climbing through canopy
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Bearded saki fact file

Bearded saki description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderPrimates
FamilyPitheciidae
GenusChiropotes (1)

With a head of thick, black hair and a dense beard framing the face (4), bearded sakis are highly distinctive monkeys. The coat is mostly black, with highlights of light yellow brown to dark brown on the back and shoulders (2). The bushy fox-like tail (a characteristic of all monkey species in the Pitheciidae family (5)), is also black, and unlike some other monkeys, it is only capable of grasping in infant bearded sakis (2). Female bearded sakis are slightly smaller than males (2), and males can also be distinguished by their bulging foreheads (6). The scientific name Chiropotes is a combination of Greek words meaning ‘hand-drinker’, referring to the manner in which bearded sakis have sometimes been observed drinking by scooping water in the hollow of their hand and bringing it to their mouth. This was once thought to be an attempt to keep their magnificent beards dry (5).

Also known as
Black saki, black-bearded saki, brown-bearded saki.
Synonyms
Chiropotes satanas satanas.
Spanish
Cuxiú-preto.
Size
Male head-body length: 40 – 48 cm (2)
Female head-body length: 38 – 41 cm (2)
Male tail length: 40- 42 cm (2)
Female tail length: 37 – 42 cm (2)
Male weight: 2.2 – 4.0 kg (2)
Female weight: 1.9 – 3.3 kg (2)
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Bearded saki biology

Bearded sakis specialise in eating the young seeds from inside unripe fruits (2) (8). Their robust canines (8), along with the other upper teeth that jut forward over the lower teeth like a macaw’s beak, are perfect for cracking open the hard shells of some fruits and nuts, enabling them to reach the soft kernels within (4). Their remarkably strong jaws and teeth are capable of breaking open fruits that humans would be unable to achieve without the aid of a hammer (4). Bearded sakis supplement this diet of seeds and fruits with arthropods, including spiders and insects (9), and, unusually, soil. The habit of eating soil, also known as geophagy, may be done for a number of reasons, such as for minerals, to absorb toxins, or to alleviate gastrointestinal upsets (10).

Seeking out trees with the best seeds and fruits is a time consuming activity for the bearded saki (6), undertaken in groups of around 30 individuals (4). The gestation period in this monkey lasts for five months, with just a single young born at a time. The bearded saki becomes sexually mature at four years of age and can live for more than 18 years (4).

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Bearded saki range

Endemic to Brazil, the bearded saki occurs only in a small area of the eastern Amazon basin (1) (7), situated south of the lower Rio Amazonas and east of the Rio Tocantins (1).

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Bearded saki habitat

Like all New World primates, the bearded saki lives almost exclusively in trees (2). It is found in tropical rainforest, often near streams and rivers (4) (7), and preferably in areas that are not flooded and are undisturbed (7).

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Bearded saki status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Bearded saki threats

Situated within one of the most densely inhabited parts of the Brazilian Amazon (7), the small range of the bearded saki has been subject to logging and other disturbances such as the construction of a hydroelectric plant and major highways (4) (7). In some areas, the effects of intense habitat disturbance are exacerbated by hunting pressure (11); bearded sakis are hunted for bushmeat (12), and their tails are reportedly used as dusters (7). This perilous combination of habitat destruction and hunting, along with the bearded saki’s specialised diet and preference for undisturbed forest (7), has led some to regard the bearded saki as the most endangered primate in the Amazon (4).

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Bearded saki conservation

The bearded saki is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). However, to ensure the future survival of this highly threatened primate, adequately protected reserves and a captive breeding programme are said to be urgently required (7).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on conservation in the Amazon see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Arthropods
A very diverse phylum (a major grouping of animals) that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
Bushmeat
The meat derived from wild animals.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Gestation
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
New World
A term used for the Americas.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. CITES (April, 2008)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  5. Herschkovitz, P. (1985) A preliminary taxonomic review of the South American bearded saki monkeys genus Chiropotes (Cebidae, Platyrrhini), with the description of a new subspecies. Fieldiana Zoology, 27: 1 - 46.
  6. Preston-Mafham, R. and Preston-Mafham, K. (2002) Primates of the World. Facts on File Inc, New York.
  7. Thornback, J. and Jenkins, M. (1982) The IUCN Mammal Red Data Book. Part 1: Threatened Mammalian Taxa of the Americas and the Australasian Zoogeographic Region. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  8. Anapol, F. and Lee, S. (1994) Morphological adaptation to diet in Platyrrhine primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 94: 239 - 261.
  9. Veiga, L.M. and Ferrari, S.F. (2006) Predation of arthropods by southern bearded sakis (Chiropotes satanas) in eastern Brazilian Amazonia. American Journal of Primatology, 68: 209 - 215.
  10. Veiga, L.M. and Ferrari, S.F. (2007) Geophagy at termitaria by bearded sakis (Chiropotes satanas) in southeastern Brazilian Amazonia. American Journal of Primatology, 69: 816 - 820.
  11. Ferrari, S.F., Emidio-Silva, C., Lopes, M.A. and Bobadilla, U.L. (1999) Bearded sakis in south-eastern Amazonia – back from the brink?. Oryx, 33(4): 346 - 351.
  12. Care for the Wild International and Pro Wildlife. (2007) Going to Pot: The Neotropical Bushmeat Crisis and its Impact on Primate Populations. Care for the Wild International, Kingsfold, UK .
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Image credit

Bearded saki male climbing through canopy  
Bearded saki male climbing through canopy

© Liza Veiga

Liza Veiga
Coordenação de Pós-graduação (CZO)
Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi (MPEG)
Av. Perimitral 1901
Belém
Pará
Brazil
Tel: +55 (91) 3217-6132
lizaveiga@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.pitheciineactiongroup.org

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