Wildlife Holiday News

Primates of the world

Tom AmbroseBy Tom Ambrose
Website & Media assistant
21st March 2019

You don't have to be a wildlife enthusiast to be enthused by primates! Humans are one of around 300 species that constitute the primate order. Primates are characterised primarily by having large brains relative to body weight, allowing for complex social interaction, use of tools, spatial reasoning and conscious thought. Viewing primates in the wild is special for this reason; it is easy to be captivated by the anthropomorphic stare of a Mountain Gorilla, wondering if it's pondering the same questions that you are, or to marvel at the intelligence displayed even by small primates, such as the Bearded Capuchin as it cracks tough Brazil nuts using an improvised hammer and anvil.

Primates inhabit all continents except Antarctica, and can be found in some surprising locations, including snow clad mountains and arid deserts. We've compiled a catalogue of our favourite primates below, which includes interesting facts about each one, and where to see them!

Image

Mountain Gorilla
It is now over 25 years since the first trekking group visited one of the newly habituated Mountain Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Now there are around 20 families that can be visited within Uganda, each known by name. They can be difficult to find, but encounters with these great apes are always worth the effort! Hearing the rumble of a large male Silverback from within the undergrowth, seeing the family interactions or watching a youngster show off its climbing skills, are unforgettable moments.

They can be seen on our 'Uganda – Mammals & Mountains' tour.

Tour Info

Image
Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives: the lineage of Humans and Chimpanzees diverged from the Gorilla genus about seven million years ago. 

Their use of tools to capture ants is well documented, but a recent study found West African Chimpanzees to be using spears, sharpened with their teeth. These are used to spear animals hiding in small tree-holes. 

They can be seen on our 'Uganda – Mammals & Mountains' holiday.

Tour Info

Image

Pygmy Marmoset
Pygmy Marmosets live up to their name with adults weighing less than 125 grams! These monkeys are gum-feeding specialists; they gnaw holes in the bark of certain trees and vines to stimulate gum production. Researchers use Sacha Lodge, situated on the banks of the Napo River in Ecuador, as a base to study them. Their findings are then relayed on to sojourning tourists.

Talk to our experts today to discuss a Tailormade holiday to the luxurious Sacha Lodge for your chance to see these endearing primates!

Tailormade page

Image

Golden Snub-nosed Monkey
Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys are endemic to a small area of temperate, mountainous forests in ChinaThey exist at elevations of 1,500-3,400 metres above sea level, so are able to withstand colder average temperatures than any other non-human primate!

They can be seen on our popular 'Wild China – Sichuan's Birds & Mammals' tour.

Tour info

Image

Aye-aye
The peculiar Aye-aye is native to Madagascar. It is the world's largest nocturnal primate, and is characterised by its unusual method of finding food: it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood using its forward slanting incisors to create a small hole in which it inserts its narrow middle finger to pull the grubs out.

Join our 'Madagascar's Lemurs' holiday for a chance to see this fascinating primate.

Tour info

Image

Orang-utan
Like the other great apes, Orang-utans are highly intelligent, displaying tool use and distinct cultural patterns in the wild. Bornean Orang-utans are sadly critically endangered, but are fairly easy to see in national parks. Revenue generated by tourism provides an alternative land use to that which would otherwise threaten the species. 

See them on our 'Borneo's Orang-utans' tour.

Tour Info

Image

Chacma Baboon

The Chacma Baboon inhabits a wide array of habitats including woodland, savannah, steppes and subdesert, from the grassy alpine slopes of the Drakensberg to the Kalahari Desert.

See them on any of our tours to South Africa.

South Africa tours

Image

Japanese Macaque
The Japanese Macaque, or 'Snow Monkey' is highly intelligent, and exhibits many unusual behaviours. These include communal bathing in hot springs, and rolling snowballs for fun!

See them on our 'Wild Japan in Winter' holiday.

Tour info

Image

Indri
The Indri is one of the largest lemur species, well known for its loud, distinctive songs, which can last from 45 seconds to more than three minutes!

They can be seen on many of our Madagascar tours.

Tour info

Image

Verreaux's Sifaka
The Verreaux's Sifaka is a species of lemur, endemic to the island of Madagascar. They are capable of remarkable leaps through trees, travelling distances of 9-10 metres through the air. On the ground they hop bipedally, in a rather comical fashion!

See them on our 'Madagascar's Lemurs' tour.

Tour info

Image

Bearded Capuchin
Bearded Capuchins in Brazil can be observed cracking nuts with an improvised hammer and anvil. The monkey first places the nut in a stable position on the 'anvil', to prevent the nut from rolling away, then uses a large stone to shell the nut.

See this fascinating behaviour on our 'Brazil – South America's Big Five' holiday.

Tour info

Image

Gelada
Geladas are not actually a species of baboon (a common misconception), but a close relative. They are endemic to the high grassland and gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau. By day they forage these montane grasslands, and by night they retire to the cliffs to sleep.

They can be seen on any of our Ethiopian tours, except 'Ethiopian Wolves'.

Ethiopia tours

Image

Western Tarsier
The Western Tarsier is nocturnal and carnivorous, preying largely on insects, but also on bats, birds and even snakes! When attacking it closes its huge, vulnerable eyes, before delivering bites to the back of the neck! 

See them on our 'Borneo's Rainforest Mammals' holiday.

Tour info

Image

Geoffroy's Spider Monkey
Geoffroy's Spider Monkeys exist from southern Mexico down to northern Colombia and Ecuador. Like other spider monkey species, they have a long prehensile tail that can support their body weight, acting like a fifth limb! 

See them on our 'Costa Rica - from Coast to Cloudforest' tour.

Tour info

Image

Black Howler Monkey
Black Howler Monkeys are one of the loudest members of the animal kingdom – their dawn chorus can be heard from 5km away! Howler monkeys eat mainly leaves, as well as some fruit, such as figs. Like other folivores, they sleep or rest for much of the day, as leaves are difficult to digest.

Black Howler Monkeys are commonly seen on all of our Pantanal tours, including the popular 'Just Jaguars' holiday.

Tour info

Image

Purple-faced Langur
Also called the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, this species is mostly folivorous, with specialised stomach bacteria that aid digestion of the complex carbohydrates found in leaves. They are found in Sri Lanka's 'wet zone', where they inhabit closed canopy forests.

See them on our 'Sri Lanka's Mammals' tour.

Tour info

Image

Golden Lion Tamarin
The Golden Lion Tamarin exists in the wild today thanks to a coordinated conservation effort, combining captive breeding and habitat restoration. They are endemic to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil.

See these beautiful primates on our 'Brazil's Natural History' tour.

Tour info

Image

Humboldt's Squirrel Monkey
Humboldt's Squirrel Monkeys live together in mixed-sex groups, numbering up to 500 individuals! They use a number of vocalisations, including warning sounds to alert their group to specific predators, such as large falcons.

They're ubiquitous in the Amazon basin, and so are regularly sighted on many of our South American tours, such as our 'Ecuador - Amazonian Mammals' holiday.

Tour info

Image

Agile Gibbon
Agile Gibbons live in monogamous pairs in a strictly enforced territory, which is defended by vigorous visual and vocal displays.

See this acrobatic primate on our 'Borneo's Rainforest Mammals' tour.

Tour info