February 8, 2016

Release of various animal species at Tabaco Creek

As part of our environmental commitment, Cerrejón relocated four howler monkeys near Tabaco Creek.

The Venezuelan red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) is a typical primate species in the region, generally existing in closed groups dominated by an alpha male. Their main diet is tender leaves, although they can also eat fruit and insects. Red howler monkeys rarely descend from their trees, making the journey down only to drink water or when adverse habitat conditions force them to seek a new site.

Four individuals of this species were rescued from a forest fragment in the Antiguo Manguitos sector and were taken (together with other wild animals) to the Cerrejón Wildlife Refuge Centre. This Centre is part of the clinical and biological fauna rescue program, which has recovered more than 35,000 individuals of fish, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Of these, over 5,000 have been rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitat.

In addition to the four howler monkeys, five mouse opossums, two iguanas, and one banded cat-eyed snake. “These animals had to be relocated as the forest fragment at the Wildlife Centre is too small for them to survive,” commented Juan Alzate, a biologist at the Centre.

A Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis) found near the Carulla supermarket by a Mushaisa residential unit inhabitant, was also rescued and returned to its habitat. The animal may have been looking for water given the drought conditions in the department of La Guajira.  Veterinarian Carolina Polo noted that, “This individual was taken to the Wildlife Centre, where it was examined and determined to be a female in good health”.

At Cerrejón, we are concerned about the conservation and care of local wildlife, immediately providing assistance for animals at risk in our Wildlife Refuge Centre.

General information on the animals rescued and relocated


  • Red howler monkeys.These monkeys have a flattened face and stubby, well-separated nostrils. They range in size from 56 to 92 cm. The calls of large groups of howlers sound like the wind screaming, although much more powerful and sustained.
  • Marmosa:This genus of Didelphidae marsupials are also known as mouse opossums. Guajiran marmosas tend to inhabit canopy areas with high humidity. Fur colour varies not only between species, but even among individuals and also according to age. It can range from greyish or dark and reddish tones on the back to white, light grey, cream, and yellowish on the under parts.
  • Iguanas. These animals are found in humid jungles, normally living in trees around 1.2 m above the forest floor. Despite their size, they can move quickly among the plants and are admirable climbers. Iguanas have excellent vision and can see shapes, shadows, and movement at great distances. They use their good eyesight to navigate through dense jungle and to find food. These animals also use certain visual signals to communicate with other iguanas.
  • Banded cat-eyed snake.This small snake (usually under 1 metre) feeds on frogs and small reptiles and occasionally small birds. It imitates the colouring of a venomous snake (Mapana verdadera) to ward off predators.
  • Brazilian porcupine. This is the common name given to various species of rodents in the suborder Hystricomorpha. The porcupine is nocturnal, spending the day inside a den it excavates itself and then going out at night to search for food. However, it does not like low temperatures, so in winter it stays in its den even during the night.