White-nosed saki (Chiropotes albinasus)

Also known as: Red-nosed bearded saki, red-nosed saki, white-nosed bearded saki
French: Saki À Nez Blanc
Spanish: Cuxiú, Saki Nariblanco
GenusChiropotes (1)
SizeMale head-body length: c. 42.7 cm (2)
Female head-body length: c. 41.8 cm (2)
Tail length: 30 - 50.7 cm (3)

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (2).

In spite of its common name, the white-nosed saki (Chiropotes albinasus) actually has a red nose and upperlip, although stiff, yellowish-white hairs can be seen growing from the area (4). Its entire body is covered in shiny jet black fur (4), contrasting with the light-coloured nose and upperlip (2) (4) (5).

Members of the genus Chiropotes are generally named bearded sakis; due to the chin hair being distinctly longer when compared to sakis in the genus Pithecia. The white-nosed saki’s beard is formed from long, thick black hair, and it also has thick hair on its head with a central parting (4), although this feature is less developed in the female (2).

The white-nosed saki’s tail is covered with dense, black fur and has a blunt tip (4). In the first few months of life the tail is prehensile, but this trait is then lost (6). The white-nosed saki has deep jaws with specialised teeth, including tusk-like canines (7), which enable it to access hard-cased fruit and seeds with tough pods (2).

Endemic to Brazil, the white-nosed saki is sparsely distributed, occurring south of the River Amazon, between the Rivers Xingu and Madeira, and as far south as the Guaporé River in Rondônia (1) (7).

The white-nosed saki prefers upland terra firma forest, although it may also be found in seasonally flooded Igapó forest (1) (8).

The white-nosed saki is diurnal and predominantly frugivorous, with its diet containing up to 90 percent fruit (1) (7). However, in the Floresta Nacional do Tapajós region the white-nosed saki feeds mainly on immature seeds (1). Other food items include flowers, mature seeds, bark and invertebrates, such as ants (1) (4) (7).

As the white-nosed saki is not commonly seen, little is known about its biology or social structure. It is an arboreal monkey, with longer hind limbs than forelimbs, and moves quadrupedally through the canopy (4). Groups of at least 8 to 20 individuals have been observed, and are composed of roughly equal numbers of males, females and juveniles (7) (9).

Typically, the female white-nosed saki gives birth to a single infant (10).

The white-nosed saki is mainly threatened by habitat destruction, as its range has been divided by the Trans-Amazon highway. The Santarém-Cuiabá highway provides easy access to the Xingu-Tapajós region, making the forests vulnerable to clearance for soybean farms and infrastructure development. Soybean plantations currently threaten only a small portion of the white-nosed saki’s range, but clearance for cattle ranching is also a threat (1).

The white-nosed saki is hunted for its meat, especially in Rio Tapajos, although it may also be used as bait for cat traps (10). It may also be targeted for its bushy tail, which is used as a duster (1).

As well as being listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (4), the white-nosed saki is protected under the Brazilian Endangered Species Act, which prohibits the capture, collection, sale, or export of this species (10). Its range also includes two reserves: the Parque Nacional da Amazônia and Floresta Nacional do Tapajós, which offer this species some protection (1). However, enforcing legislation in the region is difficult, and further parks or reserves are recommended (10).

For further information on bearded sakis:

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:

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2012)
  2. Primate Info Net – bearded saki (January, 2012)
  3. Ankel-Simons, F. (1999) Primate Anatomy: An Introduction. Academic Press, San Diego.
  4. CITES (January, 2012)
  5. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walkers Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  6. van Roosmalen, M.G.M., Mittermeier, R.A. and Milton, K. (1981) The bearded sakis, genus Chiropotes. In: Coimbra-Filho, A.F. and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.) Ecology and behavior of Neotropical primates. Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, Rio de Janeiro.
  7. Ayres, J.M. (1989) Comparative feeding ecology of the uakari and bearded saki Cacajao and Chiropotes. Journal of Human Evolution, 18(7): 697-716.
  8. Wolfheim, J.H. (1983) Primates of the World: Distribution, Abundance and Conservation. University of Washington Press, London.
  9. Ferrari, S.F. (1995) Observations on Chiropotes albinasus from the Rio dos Marmelos, Amazonas, Brazil. Primates, 36(2): 289-293.
  10. 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.