Buffy saki (Pithecia albicans)

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Buffy saki amongst branches
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Buffy saki fact file

Buffy saki description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderPrimates
FamilyPitheciidae
GenusPithecia (1)

The buffy saki  (Pithecia albicans) is a New World primate that moves through the forest quadrupedally, moving on all four limbs, leaping or bouncing between neighbouring trees (4) (5) (6).

Even though it was first discovered in the 1850s, the buffy saki, as with all members of the genus Pithecia, remains a poorly studied primate as it avoids human contact and is slow to habituate to human presence (7) (8). Members of the genus Pithecia have a thick muzzle, and a long, bushy tail. The hair is generally long, thick and shaggy, except for the face which is bare, or short-haired, and has black skin. The hands and feet are usually pale in colour, contrasting with the darker lower arms and legs (9).

The female buffy saki is very hard to distinguish from the male which is slightly larger and has small patches of white fur around the eyes (9). The young are born dark brown in colour, with a naked tail (6).

Also known as
white saki.
Spanish
Parauacú-branco.
Size
Male weight: 2.1 - 3 kg (2)
Female weight: 1.3 - 2.5 kg (2)
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Buffy saki biology

Being largely herbivorous, the buffy saki prefers to forage on seeds, but also feeds on fruit, flowers, nectar, tree bark and very rarely insects (4) (5). It has robust incisors and canines that are perfect for breaking through the tough outer layers of fruit to reach the seeds within (4).

The buffy saki lives in groups of between 3 to 7 individuals, with a home range of between 147 and 204 hectares which may overlap with that of neighboring groups (5). This species appears to spend much of its day resting, and when feeding the buffy saki group often splits into smaller feeding parties (5) (6).

The buffy saki appears to give birth all year round, as births have been recorded in March, June, November and December. Births do not appear to correlate with the fruiting of the trees in the region. The infant is carried on the female’s thigh, and adult colouration is attained after about three weeks, when the infant switches to riding on the back of the female. The young becomes independent after around six months of age (6).

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Buffy saki range

The buffy saki was thought to be endemic to a small area between the lower Rio Purus and Rio Tefé, south of the Rio Solimões-Amazonas in Brazil, but its range is now known to extend to the east bank of the lower Rio Juruá (1) (5) (9).

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Buffy saki habitat

The buffy saki is a rainforest species and almost exclusively lives in the middle and upper canopy of the trees (1) (6). This species makes use of all available forest types, including terra firma forest and flooded forests (5) (10).

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Buffy saki status

The buffy saki is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Buffy saki threats

Although studies have shown that the buffy saki can survive in logged forests, due to its ability to feed on a variety of food items, the main threats to the buffy saki are deforestation and hunting pressure, which have caused this species to decline  (1) (11).

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Buffy saki conservation

This species is thought to occur in the Abufari Biological Reserve, and is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning trade in this species should be tightly controlled (1) (3).

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

More information on the conservation of Pithecia and other primates:

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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

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Herbivorous
Having a diet that comprises only vegetable matter.
Home range
The area occupied by an animal during routine activities, which is not actively defended.
Incisors
The front or cutting teeth.
Quadrupedally
Walking on all four feet.
Terra firma forest
Latin for ‘dry land’; forest that is not seasonally flooded.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Johns. A.D. (1991) Forest disturbance and Amazonian primates. In Box, H.O. Primate Responses To Environmental Change. Chapman and Hall, London
  3. CITES (November, 2011)
    http://www.cites.org/
  4. Fleagle, J.G. (1988) Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press, Maryland Heights.
  5. Peres, C. (1993) Notes on the ecology of buffy saki monkeys (Pithecia albicans, Gray 1860): A canopy seed-predator. American Journal of Primatology, 31: 129-140.
  6. Johns, A.D. (1986) Notes on the ecology and current status of the buffy saki, Pithecia albicans. Primate Conservation 7: 26-29. Available at:
    http://www.primate-sg.org/PDF/PC7.pdf
  7. Johns, A.D. (1985) First field observations of Pithecia albicans. Primate Eye, 26: 17-18.
  8. Norconk, M.A. (2006) Long-term Study of Group Dynamics and Female Reproduction in Venezuelan Pithecia pithecia. International Journal of Primatology, 27(3): 653-674.
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Image credit

Buffy saki amongst branches  
Buffy saki amongst branches

© Luiz Claudio Marigo / naturepl.com

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