Primate Info Net Banner Wisconsin PRC Logo

Woolly monkey


CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: L. lugens: CR; L. cana, L. cana cana: EN; L. lagotricha, L. poeppigii: VU; L. cana tschudii: DD (What is Red List?)
Key: CR = Critically endangered, EN = Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, VU = Vulnerable, DD = Data deficient
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

L. cana
L. cana
Photo: Júlio César Bicca-Marques

Almost all woolly monkeys are threatened, with only L. lagotricha having a semblance of healthy widespread populations (Defler et al. 2003). Attempts to breed woolly monkeys in captivity have not met much success as captive individuals are plagued by health problems (Ange-van Heugten et al. 2008). Slow life-history and reproductive traits also make it hard for populations of large-bodied primates like woolly monkeys to recover from threats (; Peres 1990).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

As with many primates, a primary threat to woolly monkeys is the loss or degradation of their natural habitat. This includes for agricultural activities (coca plantations, small-holder agriculture, illegal farming, and crop fumigation), and mining (; Defler 2004). As they are adapted for life in primary habitats, while a specific forest may not be completely destroyed, even low-level disturbance affects woolly monkey populations significantly (; Defler 2004).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Woolly monkeys are heavily hunted (often illegally) for meat and as medicine (; Peres 1991; Defler 2004). They are particularly vulnerable to hunting due to their large size, which makes them prime targets for hunters, a problem confounded by their slow life-histories which often prevents populations from recovering (Peres 1991). At some localities hunting pressure is so high that they are locally extinct (Peres 1990; 1991). Woolly monkeys are also hunted for medicine as their fat is believed to heal certain ailments (Peres 1991). Other data is encouraging however. For example, hunting pressure is low in the Brazilian state of Rondônia (Iwanaga & Ferrari 2002).

To obtain infants as pets, the mother is sometimes shot. Once in captivity, woolly monkeys kept as pets often die due to strangulation, disease, and neglect (Defler 2004).

Threat: Human Disturbance

All populations of L. lugens are possibly threatened by human encroachment (Defler et al. 2003).





Content last modified: September 30, 2010

Written by Kurt Gron.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2010 September 30. Primate Factsheets: Woolly monkey (Lagothrix) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2020 July 6.