Programme tamarin à pieds blancs

Endemic to Colombia, the white-footed tamarin (Saguinus leucopus, known locally as the ‘grey titi’) has one of the smallest ranges in the Saguinus genus. Victims of deforestation but above all the illegal pet trade, they are classed as endangered on the IUCN[1] Red List.
 
A conservation program set up in 2005, bringing together several international partners including ACOPAZOA[2], EAZA[3] and WCS[4] as well as a number of Colombian and European zoos, has a plan of in and ex situ action with the following aims:
- the development of a breeding program in Colombian zoos with the publication of a StudBook
- the logistic and financial support of centres for the rescue and rehabilitation of the species in Colombia
- a study of the species in its natural environment (distribution, population density, available habitat, genetic structure, health status)
- education and awareness-raising within local populations about species conservation, to fight commercial hunting and trafficking
- creation of a protected area for the species. 

Results have already been very encouraging because the precise distribution of the species has been ascertained and the authorities have registered a drop in tamarin trafficking. Seventeen enclosures have been built in Colombian zoos and 49 babies have been born as part of the breeding program. The organisation of regular workshops to train zoo-keepers and the establishing of strict protocols when it comes to veterinary care and food hygiene have brought about a spectacular drop in white-footed tamarin mortality. Finally, the various awareness campaigns run by the program (including the annual Grey Titi Festival in towns within the species’ range) appear to have been very successful and to have inspired increasing numbers of local people to get involved.   
 
Today one of the programme’s main objectives is to create, in agreement with the Colombian government, a reserve enabling the long-term protection of the species in its natural habitat.
 
The Zoo de La Palmyre has contributed to the program financially since 2005. In 2006 the zoo vet, Thierry Petit, went to Colombia to train local vets in the treatment and examination of Callithricidae, as well as in the different diseases that may affect these small primates.
 
 
[1]International Union for Conservation of Nature.
[2]Colombian Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
[3]European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

[4]Wildlife Conservation Society.
 
Credits: © L. Arias, P. Guibert, E. B. Ruivo, R. Torres.