What happens to spider monkeys when their forest habitat is cut down? Students at four local elementary schools – Oria Arriba, Nuario, Vallerriquito and Los Asientos – explored this issue during Azuero Earth Project’s 2012 Spider Monkey Education initiative from October 22nd-25th. This year, which marks the third year of AEP’s annual Azuero Spider Monkey Education Initiative, focused on how forest fragmentation impacts the Azuero Spider Monkey and other local wildlife through interactive games, environmental songs, and a mural painted at each school. Games included:
- Azuero Animal Relay – A guessing game where players learn how to describe characteristics of local wildlife species.
- Monkey Twister – The Challenge! – A game of twister where players represent spider monkeys and learn important tree species for spider monkey survival while trying not to fall in a forest that grows smaller and smaller.
- The Forest of Luck – A version of chutes and ladders that explores how forest gaps and regrowth impact wildlife differently.
- Fruit-a-mania! – An active game in which students collect as many fruits as possible while evading a poacher in a diminishing forest habitat.
Through these games, AEP staff and volunteers encouraged students to identify local animals and native tree species and consider what happens to the Azuero spider monkey as its habitat becomes more or less fragmented (for example, someone plants a tree or cuts trees down to build a highway). Students also sang traditional “tamborito” songs with environmental messages about the future of the spider monkey subspecies and the importance of conserving the Azuero dry forest.
For more information about AEP’s Spider Monkey Education Initiative and other Education opportunities, see Education.
Written by Sophie M. Fuchs