Thursday, December 04, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas, Part I: Mochilas for Monkeys

For the next several weeks, Idaho Nature Notes will feature some special gift ideas for the conservationist on your list this season. Cotton-top tamarin monkeys (above) are found in the tropical dry forest of Colombia, but they face major challenges to their survival.

You can help cotton-top tamarins, also known as titi monkeys, by purchasing a mochila bag on-line from Proyecto Titi, a Nature Conservancy partner dedicated to conserving cotton-top tamarins.

Two problems plague the tropical dry forest of Colombia. Communities surrounding the tropical dry forest face high unemployment, so to survive they often extract from the forest: they cut trees, poach wildlife for food and collect the endangered monkeys to sell to the black-market biomedical industry.

The other problem is a lack of refuse collection, leading to an astounding number of plastic bags in the countryside. The solution: Mochilas for monkeys.

First, a local community collects clean plastic bags, which are then cut into strips by women (and one man) in the village.

The bags are then sewn into mochilas, beautiful hand bags. They are sold on-line and at places like Disney's Animal Kingdom. The proceeds go back to the community.

The bags are all quality tested for strength and uniformity. The sale of these bags has completely transformed the community. They no longer have to poach in the forest, they have cemented their floors, their schools have improved.

The community celebrates this improvement by recognizing the monkey, holding a titi festival every year and crowning a titi queen (above), who greets all visitors to the village. She takes her job very seriously. School children learn about the monkeys and perform songs about them.

By purchasing mochila bags on-line from Proyecto Titi, you are benefiting monkeys, the tropical dry forest and people. You are helping to create a future of hope--a future where local communities can prosper along with, rather than against, wild animals. --Matt Miller

1 comment:

Susan said...

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