Animal Environmentalists – Pygmy Marmosets

Animal Environmentalists – Pygmy Marmosets

People have only recently begun to realize that we must manage the environment in a way that doesn’t destroy the resources we need for survival. However, we see many examples of animals using conservation measures to preserve a vital resource. A classic example of animal environmentalists is the pygmy marmoset in the western Amazon of South America. 

Pygmy marmosets are the world’s smallest monkeys. The heaviest they get is about four ounces, and their largest size is nine inches. Because of their “cuteness,” people have captured and sold them as pets since they don’t bite, are quiet, and are easy to feed. People feed them sugar syrup along with a few supplements. In the wild, one of their main foods is high-sugar-content tree sap. Pygmy marmosets drill holes into a tree and lap up the flowing sap, and they can keep the hole open as long as needed. 

The interesting thing is how pygmy marmosets manage this resource. Drilling holes in multiple trees gives them enough nutrients to sustain a large population. However, making many holes in a tree and keeping them open would eventually kill the tree. So how do these animal environmentalists avoid killing off their food supply?

The PBS program Nature told of researchers who spent a month studying the pygmy marmoset lifestyle in an extremely remote part of the western Amazon away from human interference. The answer is that the monkeys let the holes heal over and switch locations to avoid extracting too much sap from one tree. In this way, they don’t damage the trees and have a constant food source. The question is, how do they know to do this? The human way of doing things might be to pull out everything from one tree and then go to the next until none were left. 

God has built a system of checks and balances into the natural world, allowing it to function indefinitely. It is only when humans upset the balance that trouble ensues. Animal environmentalists such as pygmy marmosets display the wisdom of God’s creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Source: The PBS program Nature, which initially aired on October 9, 2019