Golden-mantled howling monkey, Common mantled howler, Ecuadorian mantled howling monkey, Northern mantled howler, South Pacific blackish howling monkey, Southern mantled howler
The Mantled howler monkeys are native to Central and South America. The animals are so called due to exhibiting long, guard hairs on both of their sides. These primates belong to the group of New World monkeys. They have black colored, furless face with a beard as well as a prehensile tail with a naked pad, found on the underside, at its base. Mature individuals are distinguished by black and brown/blonde saddles. Infants, on the other hand, display silver to golden brown overall coloration, which gradually changes, finally turning to the adult pattern at one year old.
The natural range of Mantled howlers occupies southern Mexico and southern Guatemala, stretching to Central America as south as the west coast of Colombia and Ecuador. Preferred types of their habitat are lowland and montane rainforests such as primary and regenerated forests.
The mantled howler monkeys exhibit a highly social behavior and a well-defined hierarchy system. They form groups of 10 - 20 individuals, including a single dominant male and multiple females, with whom it mates. The core of each group is composed of females, which generally live in the group throughout their lives. These monkeys are mainly tree-dwelling animals. When travelling among trees, they walk and climb the forest canopy, using all of their four limbs. They can often be seen hung from tree branches with their arms. When eating, they usually wrap their long tails around branches. As diurnal animals, they are active by day and sleep by night on horizontal branches of trees. These primates communicate with each other through a wide variety of calls such as barks, grunts, and woofs. Although they normally give out the famous howling calls at dusk and dawn, they can use this form of communication when disturbed.
Mantled howler monkeys are polygynous, which means that one male mates with multiple females. They don't display any particular breeding season and instead breed at any time of the year. However, most births occur in late December and January. Gestation period lasts for 6 months, yielding a single infant. The female will lick and carry her baby. After a while, she will carry the infant on her back. When traveling in this position, the baby typically grasps the base of its mother's tail. During the first 4 months, the infant is constantly with its mother, remaining within a distance of two meters. At 10 - 11 weeks old, the baby starts foraging independently. At this point, the young howler begins spending more and more time on its own. Males of this species are reproductively mature at 42 months old, whereas females are capable of producing offspring by 36 months old.
The population of Mantled howler monkeys as a whole currently faces loss, destruction and fragmentation of its forest habitat, which primarily concerns the Mexican subspecies, classified as Critically Endangered. If this continues, the Mantled howler monkeys will lose as much as 73 - 84% of their range during the following 30 years. Habitat fragmentation nowadays poses a number of serious threats for isolated populations of this species, including genetic problems, associated with continuous interbreeding as well as possible extinction, as a result of potential natural disasters of disease outbreaks.
As reported by the Pets on Mom. Me. Resource, the overall population of this species is currently over 11,000 monkeys, 1,300 of which inhabit protected areas and the remaining 10,200 are found outside protected areas. Currently, Mantled howler monkeys are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
These monkeys disperse seeds of various plants they consume through their feces, thus highly benefiting the local ecosystem. Additionally, their feces are used by a number of dung beetles, which, in turn, help recycle nutrients from their feces into the soil.