We’re not sure what comes first – whether living in one of the most biodiverse forests in the world makes a conservationist of you; or if people who chose to live in a place like the Atlantic Rainforest are naturally interested in conservation. Either way, the team at Awasi Iguazu is committed to protecting the precious environment they call home, and are often found releasing animals back into the wild following rehabilitation, or tracking the surrounding nature using hidden cameras.

Paula Bertotto, Operations Assistant Manager at Awasi Iguazu tell us about the work the team is doing to protect capuchin monkeys.

Awasi Iguazu is located in the heart of the Atlantic Forest, one of the most diverse forests in the world,” says Paula. “The nature reserves that surround us protect the most endangered species. The environment is as lush as it is fragile. The use of forest resources, the advancement of agriculture and urbanization have fragmented the forest, reducing the resources available for wildlife, and especially for mammals.”

Paula Bertotto – Awasi Iguazu

“As part of the community, Awasi is committed to supporting efforts to protect and conserve the surrounding environment and its native species” continues Paula. “In fact, these are key resources in creating genuine, meaningful and transformative experiences for our guests. For this reason, we are now collaborating with renowned Argentine primatologist, Luciana Oklander, and Awasi has covered the cost of tracking collars and transmitting equipment to monitor the monkeys of the Atlantic Forest and facilitate their research. The renowned researcher leads a project that studies the consequences of habitat fragmentation on Capuchin monkeys (Sapajus nigritus).”

Photo by Aquiles Pirovano processed with VSCO with c7 preset

“The follow-up work when tracking monkey troops is really arduous” says Paula who has a true adventurous spirit. “Moving through the intricate vegetation is not for everyone. These agile jumpers seem to purposefully complicate the adventure of those following behind! This is one of the challenges in the field work of Victoria Martínez de Zorzi, a graduate in Environmental Sciences, who works at the Institute of Subtropical Biology in Puerto Iguazu.”

The Institute of Subtropical Biology (IBS) is a scientific and technology research unit. It is associated with the National University of Misiones (UNAM) and the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET).

Why protect the capuchin monkeys of Iguazu?

Black Capuchin Monkeys or Cai Monkeys are categorized as “Near Threatened” (NT), due to the decline in the species caused by the loss and fragmentation of their habitat. The overall objective of Victoria’s PhD is to determine the consequences of habitat fragmentation processes on wild mammal populations in northeastern Argentina, using capuchin monkeys as a study model. This research project proposes to study two wild populations of the same species: one inhabiting a continuous environment, while the other lives in a fragmented environment due to different uses of the earth. Populations of Capuchin monkeys at both sites will be surveyed and genetic variability of these populations will be analyzed.

“The comparison of genetic-population characteristics will determine the consequences of habitat fragmentation processes on the populations of these primates,” explains Paula.

Thanks to the radio collars and transmitters donated by Awasi, researchers will be able to permanently locate Capuchin monkey troops and obtain solid data regarding the use of their environment. The information collected will be essential for defining conservation strategies for the black Capuchin monkeys that inhabit this region of the Atlantic Forest.

Our thanks to Paula for the information in this blog post, and also to the dedication of the Awasi Iguazu team both to our guests and also to the environment surrounding our lodge. Awasi Iguazu is a 14-villa lodge in Northern Argentina. It is the only Relais & Chateaux property within reach of the Iguazu Falls, and all activities are private with each room at all three Awasi hotels having its own 4×4 vehicle and private guide.