The spider monkey conservation project began with a plea from then student Karenina Morales about protecting the spider monkey, the only non-human primate now found in El Salvador.
Having graduated from the University of El Salvador with a senior thesis on spider monkey censusing, Karenina has become a Community Conservation Associate and the first primatologist of her country. She has been working full time under Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation and Primate Conservation, Inc. grants on surveying the country for other monkey populations. Karenina has now verified 6 populations within the country at Cerro Montecristo, Nancuchiname, La Normandia, Chaguantique, El Tercio, and La Esperanza with 3 more, Cerro El Mono, Olamega Lagoon and Conchagua as probable spider monkey sites.
Since the Department of Natural Resources (MARN) is focusing on the Jiquilisco Bay area as part of their corridor system, Karenina has begun to work with the communities around Chaguantique, El Tercio, La Normandia and Nancuchiname. She has begun working with schools and created a booklet for students on spider monkeys. She has censused monkeys in El Tercio and Chaguantique and will census them in the other two areas.
During 2004, Ms. Morales has done preliminary work with communities and the NGOs to investigate the possibilities for community co-management of the spider monkey protected areas.
Read the article about Karenina Morales' work in a major El Salvador newspaper (in Spanish)