Red-handed Howler, Alouatta belzebul

The red-handed howler (Alouatta belzebul) is a New World monkey that is native to Brazil and can be found in southeastern areas of the Amazon and in the area of the Atlantic forest between Sergipe and Rio Grande do Norte. It prefers to reside in thick forests within these areas. This species was once thought to hold three subspecies, but studies conducted regarding the appearance of the subspecies and their locations revealed that they were distinct enough to be classified separately.

The red-handed howler varies in appearance, although most adults are black in color with reddish fur on the feet, hands, and end of the tail. However, some individuals can be all red in color or black, similar to red howlers and the Amazon black howler. It is a social species that lives in small groups of up to twelve individuals. This species reproduces more slowly than other species and typically gives birth during the daytime, when it is active. Young will attach themselves to the mother’s belly for up to three weeks, switching to the back once they have grown strong enough. It can be found resting in the tree canopy at up to twenty feet when not searching for food.

Because the red-handed howler is a large mammal species, it is often hunted for food and the young can be sold as pets. These can be major threats to the species since they do not reproduce quickly. Other threats that harm this species include natural predation, habitat loss in a small range, and human encroachment. Conservation efforts suggested for this species include habitat conservation, which can be conducted by farmers, landowners, and conservation experts. Other conservation efforts include possible genetic studies to monitor the genetic availability of the species and relocation. Currently, the red-handed howler appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable.”

Image Caption: Red-handed howler monkey (Alouatta belzebul) in Tucuruí, Pará State, Brazil. Credit: Sidnei Dantas/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)