Monkey Bridges & Wildlife Mobility

CATEGORIES: March 2017

Contributed by: Giselle Narváez Rivera

Giselle Narváez Rivera is a Master’s student in Anthropology with a focus in primatology originally from Puerto Rico. Her research is focused on studying crop-raiding by New World monkeys as a human-wildlife conflict in Gandoca, Costa Rica. She also teaches entry-level Spanish courses for our department and works to share her passion for what she is studying every day.

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Roads are human-built structures that facilitate our movement through different landscapes allowing us to connect with people and places and access more resources. However, while our movement is being facilitated, wildlife mobility through their natural habitat is being interrupted by roads. Everywhere, roads are reducing wildlife habitat permeability, increasing their mortality and impacting their populations. Animals across species are affected, but it can be particularly difficult for animals who rely on trees for travel and shelter, like monkeys. However, there is one solution that could help decrease and even prevent the impacts of such a barrier. Monkey bridges are artificial crossing structures built on and anchored to strong trees to connect the forest.

Monkey bridges allow not only monkeys but also other arboreal animals to cross roads without having to go down from the safety of their trees to the ground and expose themselves to the danger of cars, natural predators, and domestic dogs. It may even help prevent them from using power cables, which can result in electrocution. While monkey bridges are helpful, natural corridors are often preferred by primates. For this reason, we must also take care of their natural habitat through preservation and reforestation.