Are Tamarins Endangered? - Populations & Conservation

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson is going to go over a few facets related to tamarins. You'll learn what they are, if they're endangered, and what conservation issues surround these animals.

What are Tamarins?

Numerous monkeys inhabit the New World, that is, the Americas. And perhaps you have heard of tamarins? Tamarins, including lion tamarins, are monkeys of the genuses Sanguinus and Leontopithecus respectively. These are New World monkeys native to Central and South America.

They are cute, but many are in serious danger. Let's find out how and why in this lesson.

Are Tamarins Endangered?

Depending on the species of tamarin, some are endangered and others are not. For example, the following tamarins are endangered:

  • Black-faced lion tamarin (critically endangered)
  • Golden-headed lion tamarin
  • Golden-rumped lion tamarin
  • Golden lion tamarin
  • Cotton-top tamarin (critically endangered)
  • Brazilian bare-faced tamarin
  • Silvery-brown tamarin

Other species of tamarins are not endangered, and these includethe Geoffroy's tamarin, the emperor tamarin, the saddleback tamarin, and many others.

The black-mantled tamarin
The Black-mantled tamarin

The population of tamarins left also depends on the species. For instance:

  • There are around 6,000-15,000 wild golden-headed lion tamarins
  • There are roughly 6,000 wild cotton-top tamarins
  • There are approximately 1,000 golden lion tamarins in the wild


The reason so many tamarins are endangered is in large part as a result of habitat loss. As their homes, the rainforests, are destroyed due to logging or clearing of land for farming and ranching, their habitats disappear.

Even a road cutting through a forest is bad enough. That's because tamarins rely on moving around through the trees, not on the ground. A road can literally cut them off from another section of forest almost the same way as an ocean. This isolates tamarins in ever-smaller pockets, or 'islands,' of forest from which they cannot escape. This leads to inbreeding and a loss of genetic diversity, which further threatens their populations.

The ways by which tamarins and other wildlife in their shared regions can be helped is through numerous conservation measures:

  • Laws to prohibit their import/export for the pet trade, some of which have already been enacted
  • Breeding programs at zoos to increase their numbers
  • The traditional cabruca system of planting shade-grown cocoa trees, which preserves native trees that tamarins call home instead of cutting them all down in favor of the cocoa plantations

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