Mochilas for Monkeys

What’s good for monkeys is good for people: That’s not always been the case in the tropical dry forest of Colombia.

But now a project by Proyecto Titi, a Nature Conservancy partner, is helping a community benefit from monkey conservation. And you can help.

Cotton-top tamarin monkeys, also known as titi monkeys, live only in Colombia, and their forest habitat is dwindling rapidly. (See one in the photo above.)

The reason: People in the communities surrounding the forest face chronic unemployment, forcing them to cut trees, poach wildlife and capture the titi monkeys to sell to the black-market bio-medical trade.

The other problem is a lack of refuse collection, leading to an astounding number of plastic bags in the countryside.

The solution: Mochilas (handbags) for monkeys.

On a recent fellowship to Colombia, I had a chance to visit this community-based project. First, a local community collects clean plastic bags, which are then cut into strips by women (and one man) in the village.

The bags are then sewn into mochilas, beautiful hand bags (see one being made in the photo). The bags are all quality tested for strength and uniformity. They are sold online and at places like Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The proceeds go back to the community.

The sale of these bags has completely transformed the community. They no longer have to poach in the forest, they have cemented their floors, and their schools have improved.

By purchasing bags online from Proyecto Titi,  you are benefiting monkeys, the tropical dry forest and people.

You are helping to create a future of hope — a future where local communities can prosper along with, rather than against, wild animals.

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.

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