After a taxing but merry week of digging holes and tree planting, the weekend tastes sweet. We spent our Sunday morning once again at the Cloud Forest Preserve, with naturalist Ricky Guindon as our guide. There was a lot to be discovered today in the forests—trogons and hummingbirds, dragonflies and millipedes, orchids and other plant life. Harboring an affinity for birds, I kept my head tilted back towards the canopy as I walked, tripping and almost falling flat on my face several times. About halfway through our walk, we saw two women staring and pointing up at the trees ahead. My heart skipped a beat. Was it a Resplendent Quetzal? A Keel-Billed Toucan?
About halfway through our walk, we saw two women staring and pointing up at the trees ahead. My heart skipped a beat. Was it a Resplendent Quetzal? A Keel-Billed Toucan?
Nope. It’s one, two—eight spider monkeys barreling through the canopy! Each leapt from one tree to the next, causing branches and large leaves to plummet towards the ground as they went. One monkey towards the back of the troop caught my eye, for it climbed more cautiously than the others. To our delight, we realized that it was a mother, and clinging to it’s back was its little infant. Infant spider monkeys stay close to their mothers for about three months and depend at least partially on their milk for the first year. Due to these animals’ slow reproductive times (About 230 days of gestation roughly every 3 years), their populations are sensitive to human impact and do not recover quickly. Seeing the infant was a very hopeful sign, for six of the seven Spider Monkey species in the world are now endangered or critically so. Seeing the energetic troop move so swiftly and agilely through the trees was awe-inspiring, as was the tenderness and care of the mother with her infant. Our team has well over 500 trees to plant tomorrow, and I think we ought to put the Way of the Spider Monkey into practice: Plant trees swiftly and tirelessly, but also carefully and mindfully, so that the saplings we’ll be carrying in our own hands adjust well and thrive in their new homes.