Scientist Mark Bowler is on a mission to find the rare and elusive red-faced Uakari monkey. His search takes audiences deep into the remote rainforests of Peru - a dangerous journey of many days. The Uakari is a creature of legend that until today has never been filmed in the wild because its home is 30 metres up in the canopy. To the local people these monkeys are the guardians of the rainforest: only they can release the seedpods inside the fruit of the aguaje palm, which feeds the many other exotic animals that share the forest. The naturalist who first described the red Uakari in the mid-19th century called it "a monkey of a most grotesque appearance." Now 150 years later, it may very well become the poster-child of the world's last great rainforest, the Amazon.
Journeying from the bustling city of Iquitos into largely forgotten worlds, we join Dr. Bowler for an exotic riverboat cruise down the Amazon and up the Yavari river to the Lago Preto black water preserve. Here the wildlife biologist studies the habitat and behaviour of the red monkeys, working with the Wildlife Conservation Society and England's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology. This exceptional wilderness area, which boasts some of the greatest diversification of plants and animals in the world, is also home to a troop of 500 rare Red-Faced Uakari monkeys, who are one of the key species found here.
By feeding off the aguaje palm, called the "tree of life" by locals, these red monkeys release the benefits of the fruit to many other species, making their survival essential to the well-being of the entire ecosystem of the Amazon region.
Unfortunately, as logging moves into the area forest ecosystems are being threatened, and hunting could potentially wipe out the entire species. Through his work, Dr. Bowler hopes to help ensure the future survival of these amazing creatures.
Uakari: Secrets of the Red Monkey is produced and directed by Peter von Puttkamer for Gryphon Productions.
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