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Alouatta palliate, Mantled howler monkey; Alouatta pigra, Guatemalan black howler can be heard near your hotel room in dozens of parts of El Peten and Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Howler monkeys are easy to find in Guatemala

At Tikal, Yaxha, and most areas of southern Peten you can find both spider monkeys and at least one species of howler monkey. In many places in Alta Verapaz howler monkeys can be heard in the hills surrounding the towns (such as Chisec). The presence of howler monkeys so close to densely populated areas is in part because of the karst geology. You get a lot of small steep hills which are tree covered. Because the karst formations are tall and steep, local Q’eqchi’ Mayan people do not use them for slash-and-burn milpa agriculture. So the trees and never cut down and thus can house wild howler monkeys.

One day we found a howler monkey on the nickel mining factory grounds of Exmibal, Izabal. Ironic since mining companies remove the entire eco-system.

Alouatta pigra howler monkey Rio San Pedro Martyr 2877 Alouatta pigra Howler monkey Exmibal Izabal Guarumo tree 10K0023

Picture taken on the Rio San Pedro Martyr, Peten.

Fortunately, Howler Monkeys are not exploited as pets

Seemingly howler monkeys do not make good pets. Indeed many zoos do not even have howler monkeys on exhibit. So local people do not often shoot howler monkey mothers in order to capture and sell the babies!

Considering the lack of howler monkeys in most zoos of Guatemala (all of which have lots of spider monkeys), I am always surprised how close howler monkeys come to people’s camps.

At Las Guacamayas Biological (Research) Station, along the Rio San Pedro Martyr, El Peten, there are lots of howler monkeys which come close to the comfortable lodge there.

At Posada Caribe, along the Arroyo Petex Batun, near Sayaxche, El Peten, the howler monkeys come to trees inside the hotel area.

Obviously at the Parque Nacional Tikal and Parque Nacional Yaxha you can also experience howler monkeys, though the sole hotel at Yaxha is outside the ruins. And for Tikal doing photography with a tripod requires appropriate permits, plus a permit to be in the ruins before or after normal opening times (since howler monkeys don’t always keep normal hours).

Since Costa Rica has no monumental ruins of past cultures, the country of Costa Rica uses its jungle frogs and national parks to attract tourists. We at FLAAR would like to work more with the tourism department and government agencies in Guatemala to promote the gorgeous birds, the remarkable mammals, the reptiles, and the impressive butterflies and moths to encourage more people to visit Guatemala.

Tips on how to photograph howler monkeys?

Howler monkeys are black, so tough to photograph. Howler monkeys are high in trees, but with a telephoto lens you still have all the branches and leaves to contend with.

We will be preparing FLAAR Reports on “how to (improve your) photography of monkeys.”


Two species of howler monkeys inhabit Mesoamerica

Two howler monkey species can be found in Guatemala and Mexico
Scientific Name Local Spanish Name English Name
Alouatta Palliata   Mantled Howler Monkeys
Alouatta Pigra  

Guatemalan Black Howler

or Yucatan Black Howler Monkey

A list of all other howler monkey species elsewhere in Latin America is in a book by Miguel Martin Kowalewski, Patterns of Affiliation and Co-operation in Howler Monkeys…

Our full bibliography is being prepared, and when ready will be on our “bibliography web site",

In the meantime, here is a web site with monograph style information, all professionally cited: www.iucnredlist.org/details/914/0

http://academic.regis.edu/ckleier/Belize/Howler_Monkey.pdf is a scientific article on Black Howler Monkey of Belize.


First posted late August 2015


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