Listen to an exclusive Voices from the Field interview with Xyomara Carretero-Pinzon, PEN's Regional Coordinator for Colombia, below.
Can you please tell our listeners your name, title, and affiliation?
My name is Xyomara Carretero-Pinzon, Researcher in Colombian Orinoquia and PEN Regional Coordinator for Colombia.
What inspired you to become a primate educator?
I always saw a necessity when I was in field to speak with people to know what they were thinking about monkeys and to find a meeting point between their beliefs about the monkeys and the importance that I know they have for the forest and for their lives. I found that there is a necessity to help them understand the importance and the right that monkeys have to live and to be protected.
Can you share a personal story to support how education influences or results in primate conservation?
One of the couples living near one of the forest fragments where I was surveying primates a couple of years ago used to chase the black-capped capuchin monkeys group that crossed in front of their house and stole some fruits near their house. The lady especially didn’t like the monkeys, but after spending time with her and sharing all the experience that I have with these monkeys, she stopped chasing the monkeys.
When she moved from the farm to the town and every time that I went to visit her, she always had news about the monkeys and was worried about people chasing the monkeys near the town and always had reports for me about where she or others saw monkeys of all the species. Now she is one of the best friends that I have in the region and she and her husband always report new sighting of the monkeys in nearby forest fragments. Her perception of the monkeys changed from being a troublesome animal to being like us who deserves to live and feed and be happy.
Can you describe one challenge you encountered and overcame as a primate educator?
One of the biggest challenges that I have in my study area is the distance between houses and the difficulties to organize meetings where the workers of the farms in which I work are together. The only solution that until now I found with the resources that I have is just to visit each farm and spend time with them learning about their necessities and hopes, in order to understand how I can help them accept and learn about primates adapted to their individual beliefs. It takes a lot of time, but in the end you see small changes that make it all worth it.
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