Camera Trap Observations of Nonhabituated Critically Endangered Wild Blonde Capuchins, Sapajus flavius (Formerly Cebus flavius)
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Habituation presents major challenges for the study of wild primates, particularly in areas where threats such as hunting pressure and increasing forest fragmentation exist. This study describes the use of ground camera trapping to investigate nonhabituated blonde capuchins. Capuchins are arboreal animals, but often use the ground when foraging. Thus, we hypothesized that a ground-baited camera trapping station would be an efficient method to document the presence of capuchins, and to collect information about aspects of their social behavior and ecology. We conducted 92 systematic trapping days over 15 months (from December 2010 to February 2011 and from August 2011 to July 2012). The capuchins visited the trapping stations 43 times. All visits occurred between 05:13h and 17:32h, and lasted 3 min-2:03 h. Sixty-five percent of the photographs included our target species. Groups contained up to 46 individuals and were multimale-multifemale. We recorded no monkeys at the trapping stations during August and November (2011) and January (2012). Infants were more likely to be carried than not. Infants were carried by both sexes; however, 96% of photographs showed females as carriers. Adult males always arrived first at the camera trapping stations, suggesting that males led the group’s movements. The ground-baited camera trapping stations proved effective for confirming the presence of the blonde capuchins in the study site and for documenting aspects of their social behavior. The technique could potentially be used to provide comparative data among populations of this and other primate species in areas where habituation is difficult or risky to the primates.