In the 1970s, an animal behavior expert mentioned observations of primate species in Caquetá, Colombia, near the border of Ecuador and Peru. He noticed that those were somewhat different from other species of titi monkeys seen in that area. He wrote:
"The Caqueta animals are anomalous and may deserve special mention."
This was enough to the inspire the imagination of Thomas Defler, a primatologist working in Colombia. Unfortunately, for many years it was impossible to travel to the region due to violence from armed insurgent groups and a lack of security.
FROM THE BLOG: Thomas Defler describes his experiences in Colombia.
In 2008, violence subsided enough that Javier García, a native of Caquetá and student at the National University of Colombia, was able to travel to the region. Using GPS, searching on foot, and listening to animal calls, he found 13 groups of an undescribed species of titi monkey (Callicebus caquetensis). He also found two individuals of the species being kept as pets by members of the local community, whose owners were willing to donate them to the project so they could be identified.
Recommended classification for this primate is as Critically Endangered, due to the extremely small population size (estimated at less 250 individuals) and fragmented habitat. Many forests in the area are degraded due to clearing for agricultural land.
The research was funded by Conservation International's Primate Action Fund and the Iniciativa de Especies Amenazadas of Conservation International-Colombia.
Unlike most primates, Caquetá titi monkeys are monogamous and have one baby per year.