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Biologists sound alarm over concerning trend in monkey deaths: 'The animals are sending us a warning'

"If they are unwell, it's because something is happening."

"If they are unwell, it's because something is happening."

Photo Credit: iStock

Amid record temperatures soaring over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, dozens of howler monkeys have fallen dead from the treetops in southern Mexico in recent weeks.

The deaths of these monkeys may be the latest warning sign of the dangers that extreme heat poses to wildlife worldwide, according to The New York Times.

What's happening?

The Times reported that as of late May, 147 monkeys had died in the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas. Residents are finding groups of 10 or more dead monkeys at a time, many showing signs of severe dehydration.

Gilberto Pozo, a biologist monitoring a forest in the town of Cunduacán, saw two howler monkeys fall from a tree in front of him in early May.

"They were dehydrated and received treatment," he said, per the Times. "But they didn't survive."

Why are wildlife deaths concerning?

This isn't an isolated incident. As global temperatures keep shattering records, scientists have recently documented die-offs of Amazon dolphins and mass bleaching of the world's coral reefs.

The heat and drought are drying up the leaves and streams that provide crucial hydration for the monkeys. Rampant deforestation in the region has also shrunk the tropical forests where the monkeys live, leaving them with less shade, food, and water.

"The animals are sending us a warning, because they are sentinels of the ecosystem," Pozo said, according to the Times. "If they are unwell, it's because something is happening." These deaths signal that worsening climate conditions threaten not just wildlife, but the delicate balance of nature we all depend on.

What's being done to stop wildlife deaths?

Scientists are forming a working group to establish protocols for how to help distressed monkeys, the Times reported. They're also seeking funding to research the underlying causes of these mass deaths.

Meanwhile, nonprofit and academic groups in Mexico are caring for surviving monkeys, hydrating and treating over a dozen in clinics. Some are recovering in Cunduacán, where Pozo first witnessed the falling animals.

Most importantly, this sobering event is a call to action for all of us. Simple choices we make every day, like conserving water and protecting green spaces, build a world where both humans and animals thrive.

Rising global temperatures affect every living being on Earth. But if we work together to implement planet-friendly solutions in our own lives and communities, we have the power to turn the tide. One sustainable switch at a time, we can help create a cooler future for the remarkable creatures we share this home with.

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