Friday 17 May
Guatemalan black howler (Alouatta pigra)
Guatemalan black howler fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Guatemalan black howler description
Howlers are among the largest monkeys in the Americas, and the Guatemalan black howler (Alouatta pigra) is among the largest of the genus (4). The Guatemalan black howler has a notably long, silky, dense coat of black fur with traces of brown on the shoulders, cheeks and back (2) (5). A slight crest exists on the crown, and males over the age of four months have a conspicuous white scrotum (2). The arms and legs are long but stout, and the tail is prehensile, lacks hair on its underside, and is used like a fifth limb to grasp branches and anchor the body (5) (6).
Howlers earn their common name from the remarkably loud, rasping calls or howls that are characteristic of the genus (Alouatta), and emitted most elaborately and loudly by adult males (7) (8). These calls can be heard over several kilometres and serve a range of functions, including territorial advertisement, mate attraction and intimidation of rivals or enemies (7).
- Also known as
- Black howler monkey, Central American black howler, Guatemalan black howler monkey, Guatemalan howler, Guatemalan howling monkey, Mexican black howler monkey.
- Alouatta palliata pigra.
- Hurleur Du Guatemala.
- Araguato De Guatemala, Mono Aullador Negro, Saraguato, Saraguato Negro.
- Male head-and-body length: 67 - 71 cm (2)
- Female head-and-body length: 52 - 64 cm (2)
- Male tail length: 60 - 67 cm (2)
- Female tail length: 50 - 54 cm (2)
- Male weight: c. 11.4 kg (2)
- Female weight: c. 6.4 kg (2)
- Living in trees.
- Capable of grasping.
IUCN Red List (January, 2009)
- Richardson, M. (2006) Living Primates of the World: an Illustrated Taxonomy. In press, Unknown.
CITES (January, 2006)
- Richardson, M. (2006) Pers. comm.
American Zoo (April, 2006)
Primate Behaviour (April, 2006)
Treves, A. and Brandon, K. (2005) Tourism impacts on the behavior of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) at Lamanai, Belize. In: Paterson, J.D. (Ed) Commensalism and Conflict: The primate-human interface. University of Oklahoma, Tulsa. Available at:
Community Baboon Sanctuary (April, 2006)
Silver, S.C., Ostro, L.E.T., Yeager, C.P. and Horwich, R. (1998) Feeding Ecology of the Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra) in Northern Belize. American Journal of Primatology, 45: 263 - 279. Available at:
The Belize Zoo (April, 2006)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Guatemalan black howler biology
Guatemalan black howlers live in stable troops composed of one or two adult males, a few breeding females, and their offspring, with an average group size of between four and six individuals (2) (6). Groups of bachelor males also exist, the members of which will fight resident males for possession of their troop and access to breeding females (6). The territory of each troop ranges between 3 and 25 hectares, depending upon the size of the group (10). Single offspring are usual, born after a gestation period of 180 – 194 days (2).
Leaves and fruit form the bulk of the diet, although flowers and insects may also be eaten. Like other members of its genus, the Guatemalan black howler has large salivary glands that help to break down the tannins in the leaves they eat (6). This monkey is mainly active in the morning and evening, but also remains busy throughout the day (5).Top
Guatemalan black howler range
The Guatemalan black howler is found in Belize, northern Guatemala, south-eastern Mexico and possibly northern Honduras (2) (6). This species can often be observed in the vicinity of Mayan archaeological sites (2).Top
Guatemalan black howler habitat
Th Guatemalan black howler is found in primary and secondary lowland tropical rainforest and semi-deciduous forest (2) (6). One survey suggested riverine and seasonally flooded areas are particularly attractive to this species (9). Although primarily arboreal, individuals living in mangrove swamps have occasionally been seen to swim from one small island to another (2).Top
Guatemalan black howler statusTop
Guatemalan black howler threats
The Guatemalan black howler is threatened throughout most of its range from hunting and habitat destruction (10). Suitable forest habitat has rapidly been lost and fragmented through conversion to pasture and agricultural lands, and to logging operations (8). If such patterns continue, the population size of this species is projected to decline by around 74% over three generations (30 years) (1).Top
Guatemalan black howler conservation
The Guatemalan black howler is known to occur in six protected areas: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Guanacaste and Monkey Bay National Parks (Belize); Rio Dulce and Tikal National Parks (Guatemala); and Palenque National Park (Mexico) (2).
Additionally, a community-based conservation organization in Belize called the Community Baboon Sanctuary (this species is called 'baboon' in the local Creole dialect) has protected land along the Belize River, ensuring that this howler’s food trees are not destroyed to make way for pasture (10). Over 200 private landowners here in seven villages, stretching over 20 square miles, have voluntarily pledged to conserve their land for the protection of the Guatemalan black howler, many of which will consequently benefit from ecotourism. Indeed, one of the main aims of the Community Baboon Sanctuary is to help address habitat destruction by promoting sustainable tourism as an attractive alternative to destructive land management practices. At the same time, the Sanctuary conducts conservation research and educates the local community and visitors about the importance of biodiversity (8).
Other conservation measures implemented by the Sanctuary include creative initiatives like building bridges made of rope and sticks that allow the monkeys to pass between gaps in the forest, and relocating a number of individuals to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (8). If similar efforts were made in Mexico and Guatemala, and ecotourism was promoted as a viable means of profiting from protected forest habitats, the Guatemalan black howler would perhaps have a much higher chance of long-term survival.Top
Find out more
For more information on the Guatemalan black howler see:
For more information on the Community Baboon Sanctuary see:
Community Baboon Sanctuary:
Authenticated (19/06/2006) by Matt Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.Top
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.