BY RHIANN MOORE
If you’re looking for an animal charity to support, look no further. The Neotropical Primate Conservation in Peru is dedicated to protecting monkeys and the forests they inhabit from hunters. They do this through land protection, research, public awareness and more. The NPC was founded in 2007 by Sam and Noga Shanee and Lizzie Cookie as a non-profit and quickly was promoted to a charity in 2009. The charity protects critically endangered species such as the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, Rio Mayo titi monkey and the night monkey.
Not only does the NPC protect these endangered species, in recent years they have been forced to focus a lot of energy on stopping illegal wildlife trafficking. In South and Central America there are areas of the forests that have wound up practically empty as a result of illegal hunting activity – whether it is hunting for trophy, meat, skin or the pet trade. All are affecting the inhabitants of forest. Primates like the woolly monkeys and spider monkeys disappear first because their larger size makes them, unfortunately, more attractive to hunters. The NPC is dedicated to educating local communities about the dangers of tracking wildlife. This means the dangers of keeping wildlife as pets and the criminal charges associated with tracking wildlife. Healthy forests depend on an uninterrupted ecosystem, they need wildlife in order to thrive and when people come in to steal or kill animals for no good reason it puts the forest in great jeopardy, NPC and organizations like them try to ensure this does not happen.
There are a lot of ways to help when travelling in Central or South America. When travelling be sure (obviously) not to buy wild animals as it encourages the illegal trade – if you see an animal who looks abused contact the local police or look up a local animal rescue. Also do not purchase products like animal ivory, skins, trophies or paws – these are not only illegal, but they encourage cruel, needless hunting. Refrain from paying to have a picture taken with monkeys on the street and visiting uncared for zoos. These places exploit animals for entertainment and money from travelers and do not concern themselves with the well-being of the animal. If you don’t participate in these practices you can travel guilt-free.
If you feel compelled to get involved with a stand up animal charity this year, the Neotropical Primate Conservation is definitely worthy of your time and money. They have gotten by with the help of companies like Lush Cosmetics funding their protection of reserve sites in further efforts to protect natural habitats, but they need more. Their reserves are all available for visit so that communities and those travelling through are able to understand how crucial it is to protect these environments. They also look for volunteers for people who want to get directly involved beyond just seeing or donating. That being said, charities like the NPC require funding to keep going and keep helping – donations no matter what size make a huge difference and are a wonderful way to contribute when you can’t make it all the way to Peru!