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CITES: Appendix I (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: C. calvus: VU; C. melanocephalus: LC (What is Red List?)
Key: VU = Vulnerable, LC = Least concern
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

C. calvus calvus
Cacajao calvus calvus
Photo: Luiz Claudio Marigo

C. melanocephalus and its subspecies are listed as Least Concern; however, this may be in error and the result of observations of seasonal aggregations of animals feeding in flooded forests. The status of C. melanocephalus (and C. m. ouakary) should be reviewed (Adrian Barnett pers. comm.).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Logging has detrimental effects on uakaris and their habitat, even if the desired tree is not favored by uakaris. This is due to collateral felling of uakari food trees to help float commercial logs to points of sale, a reduction in selectivity of loggers resulting in food species being felled, and the alteration of the ecology of plant life in habitats precipitated by dams created by logged trees (Ayres 1986; 1990). Logging is in fact helped by the seasonal inundation of some uakari habitats as the water provides an easy way to extract logs by floating (Ayres 1990). Habitat degradation for agriculture also threatens uakari habitat as does the clearing of forests for pastureland (Heymann 1990). Further, the clearing of land for the establishment of ranches also has the potential to deplete uakari habitat (Barnett & da Cunha 1991). Illegal gold mining has also caused disturbances in uakari habitat, even in protected areas (da Cunha & Barnett 1989; Boubli 1994). One of the ways it does so is by damaging small watercourses by washing topsoil into them as well as by clearing of vegetation by burning it (Boubli 1997b). Several species of tree in the diet of the golden-backed uakari (C. m. ouakary) are also exploited commercially for timber (Barnett 2008).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Across the genus Cacajao, the degrees of and the purposes for hunting uakaris are variable. For example, in Brazil, white uakaris (C. c. calvus) are not typically hunted for food, partially due to their anthropomorphic, or human-like, appearance. However in Peru, C. calvus is hunted intensively, for food as well as for skulls for the tourist souvenir trade (Mittermeier & Coimbra-Filho 1977; Ayres 1986; Bartecki & Heyman 1987; Aquino 1988). In Venezuela, hunting pressure is likely the most profound threat to C. melanocephalus, especially by illegal gold miners for which bushmeat is an important food source (Barnett & da Cunha 1991; Lehman & Robertson 1994). In addition, miners sometimes hire indigenous hunters to procure bushmeat (Boubli 1997b). Sometimes, the large numbers of uakari individuals occurring in one place make them easy to hunt from a canoe (Defler 2001). Commercial hunting also threatens uakaris and occurs for the procurement of animal protein in the diets of some communities (Heymann 1990; Barnett & da Cunha 1991). Uakaris are also hunted for use as bait, particularly for fish, turtle, or cats, and even in areas where they are not hunted for food (Mittermeier & Coimbra-Filho 1977; Barnett & da Cunha 1991). While in some areas, hunting has formerly focused on the largest primates for food, depletion of those populations can cause an increase in hunting of somewhat smaller primates including uakaris who had been previously unaffected (Ward & Chism 2003).

Uakaris are also collected as pets, often as infants when their mothers are killed and sometimes specifically for this purpose (Aquino 1988; Ward & Chism 2003).

Threat: Pollution

Mercury, a byproduct of illegal mining sometimes makes its way into watercourses within uakari habitats and has the potential to adversely affect the health of the species (Lehman & Robertson 1994).

Threat: Intrinsic Factors

Bald uakaris have one of the highest rates of malarial infection in Amazonian primates. This infection rate might be attributable to their large group size and has the potential to have detrimental effects on their health (Davies et al. 1991).





Content last modified: July 21, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Adrian Barnett.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 July 21. Primate Factsheets: Uakari (Cacajao) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 December 13.