marc2 Interview with Marc van Roosmalen Today we have the pleasure of bringing you a unique interview with Marc van Roosmalen which illustrates his situation and problems as he sees them. For those of you who aren’t familiar with who Marc van Roosmalen is, what he has done, and his present situation, I recommend reading this short introduction before reading the interview.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Marc!

You have discovered a number of different species. Was finding one of them more special than finding the others? Is it still as much fun to find new species as it was when you found your first new species?

Marc G.M. van Roosmalen (MGMvR): Most fun but also most time and energy consuming for me was finding the ‘Land of Dermis’, where the relatives of Dermis occur – the baby black-capped dwarf marmoset that was delivered on my Manaus doorstep April 1996. With decades of experience in keeping all kinds of primates in halfway houses I knew right away that Dermis represented a new species of monkey and, undoubtedly, also a new primate genus. That event instantly took away the scepsis in me as a primatologist that nowadays it would be impossible to find new species of primates hitherto unknown to science. The quest that followed to find the monkey’s distribution somewhere in the huge Rio Madeira Basin had me stumbling into a Conan Doyle type of ‘Lost World’ – the Rio Aripuanã Basin – a hotspot of biodiversity that I soon recognized to be a totally new ecosystem within Amazonia, whose fauna and flora had never before been inventoried by naturalists, animal collectors, botanists and ornithologists alike. It took me a number of boat surveys to find Callibella humilis, a needle in a haystack as big as France. During innumerable surveys of the local rainforest and through interviews with the locals showing pictures of Dermis I happened to identify at least five other hitherto undescribed primates in the area.

Other highly memorable discoveries were those of some large terrestrial mammals whose existence I did not know of until I had close encounters with them while hiking alone through the forest. First spotting of a giant peccary (Pecari maximus) family silently crossing my trail while I was watching a group of Gray sakis in the canopy, or a group of dwarf peccaries (Pecari?) bumping literally into my feet while chasing one another through the undergrowth. And, back in camp, asking the locals what the hell the creature was that I had come upon that day…

Nowadays, under the Lula regime, it is not so much fun anymore to find new species because you run the risk to get caught in the ‘criminal’ act of collecting and transporting living evidence to support the validity of your find. To be able to publish it in a peer reviewed scientific journal you need at least to collect and deposit holotype material in a Brazilian museum. Without the proper collecting permits – a federal “license to kill” you can apply for in Brasilia, but never get granted – you seriously run the risk to be thrown in jail on accusation of what officials in Brazil call “biopiracy”. That is when you – like me – still collect, transport or keep alive any biological sample that could serve as holotype material or for DNA analysis in order to determine the phylogenetic and taxonomic status of your find. This way they make it impossible for Brazilian as well as foreign scientists to carry out biodiversity studies so needed for a sound nature conservation policy.

What do you feel when you finally find a species you have been looking for during a long time?

MGMvR: In the field you really feel yourself catapulted back in time, following the footsteps of the great naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt, Wallace, Bates, Spruce, Spix & Martius. Little progress has been made in the Brazilian Amazon ever since my natural-history heroes collected and described a large part of the Amazonian flora and fauna. In this euphoria one tends to forget that times have changed. That having the great privilege to pick up the thread these icons left behind some 150-200 years ago is now considered a ‘criminal act against nature’.


When did you change the name of the dwarf manatee from Trichechus bernhardi sp. nov to .Trichechus pygmeus ? Why did you change the name?

MGMvR: My website designer mistakenly named the dwarf manatee after the late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands like I had done with the new titi monkey Callicebus bernhardi in my 2002 review of the genus Callicebus. It took a while before I noticed it on my website. I then changed the name into Trichechus pygmaeus as in the paper I submitted earlier to Nature.

dwarf manatee Interview with Marc van Roosmalen

What is your opinion regarding the claims that the dwarf manatee is simply immature specimens of the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis) as DNA analyses don´t show enough difference between the two to make them into two distinct species?

MGMvR: Claims that the holotype skull and mandible of the dwarf manatee that I collected simply represent a juvenile common Amazonian manatee Trichechus inunguis come from Daryl Domning, who was the referee for the article on the dwarf manatee. It was therefore rejected for publication by the editors of Nature. Since then I have seen several solitary ranging specimens of the ‘Pretinho’ – as the animal is called in the area of the Rio Arauazinho, the only clearwater-river in which it seems to occur – that were all adults of about 1.3 m long. We even kept alive an adult male my field assistant had captured before. After four months it managed to escape from the coral we had constructed in a bend of the Rio Arauazinho. This specimen also measured 1.3 m and weighed only 60 kg. We fed him with the species’ prime food Eleocharis minima, an amphibious grass belonging to the Cyperaceae. He only took it in if we had fixed the grass on the sandy bottom of his pan. A specimen of the common Amazonian manatee of this size and weight would still have been nursed by its mother and would not have fed on any plant material at all. It soon would have starved to death.

marc Interview with Marc van RoosmalenThe similarity in DNA as analysed by my geneticist in the Netherlands could be explained for as follows. Either some gene flow has taken place between the inunguis population of the Rio Aripuanã and the ancient pygmaeus population that was allopatrically confined to the Rio Arauazinho during the last glacials of the Late-Pleistocene and Holocene when ocean levels dropped over 100-120 m. But during the interglacials males of inunguis theoretically could have mated once-in-a-while with pygmaeus females while foraging during the annual flood in the clearwater floodplain forest (igapó) of the lower Rio Arauazinho. Or, during one of the last glacials a population of inunguis got trapped in the Rio Arauazinho Basin and had to drastically change its feeding and foraging habits and dwarf in a time scale of some tens of thousand years at the most. We know that this is possible from a number of other creatures that dwarfed in relatively short periods of time, such as the now extinct Homo floresiensis from the Isle of Flores and the dwarf elephant Elephas cretensis from the Isle of Crete. Nobody objects if palaeontologists give extinct creatures species status but many question the validity of new extant species if not backed up by DNA genome analysis. This is bad news for nature conservationists with a species protection approach like me. If the dwarf manatee would have been accepted by the scientific community as a full and valid species, announced as such in Nature, no doubt the whole Rio Arauazinho would have been declared a rigidly protected nature reserve. It is sad to witness that because of scientific squabbling over taxonomy, a unique population of maybe not more than one hundred dwarf manatees is going extinct soon after the lower Rio Aripuanã Basin has been declared a ‘sustainable development reserve’. In nowadays Brazil that means a ‘carte blanche’ to destruction.

You list a number of species that you are searching for. What evidence do you have that these species exist?

MGMvR: All but one (the onça-canguçú or white-throated black jaguar) I have seen with my own eyes and observed in the wild. My observations have been unanimously confirmed by the locals I interviewed. Skilled hunters as they are they have long noticed the different external characters and behavioral patterns between related species of the local megafauna. Like me, they show an ecological approach to nature. They do not need genetics to distinguish their game. Underestimate or playing down on natives is a stupid thing to do.

Is there any of the species you are looking for that you feel you are closer to finding than the others?

MGMvR: If I would not have been targeted in 2002 by my ex and oldest son teaming up with some politicians, my own lawyer and the environmental police, and all my holotype material (both living and dead) and DNA samples would not have been confiscated and destroyed, and I would not have been in jail, I would have published at least another 10-15 primates and over 15 large, mainly terrestrial and (semi)aquatic mammalian species new to science – all backed-up by mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analysis. I only lacked biological material of the arboreal giant anteater (but yes, captured on video) and the white-throated black jaguar. For those extremely rare species one has to be at the right place at the right moment. To sample those I should live for a while with the locals.

Do you primarily focus on finding monkey species or is other species such as the Arboreal giant anteater (Myrmecophaga sp. Nov) and White-throated black jaguar (Panthera sp. Nov) equal prioritizes? Are there any species you especially would like to find?

MGMvR: New monkeys can be found quite easily all over the Amazon, because they basically do not fly or swim and therefore do well obey Alfred Wallace’s river barrier hypothesis. But I doubt one will find more hitherto not identified ground-dwelling and aquatic mammalian species elsewhere in the Amazon if not in the Aripuanã Basin or in the larger interfluve delineated by the Rios Amazonas, Tapajós, Teles-Pires, Jí-Paraná and Madeira. And of course, the slopes of the tepuís in the northwestern part of Amazonia and the Gran Sabana in Venezuela. Most especially I would like to find the Andes wolf and the White-throated black jaguar. Those would be the discoveries of the century

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You have officially discovered 6 new species of monkey and 2 other mammal species. What do you think have made you so successful and so good at finding new species? Is it simply because you have looked in new places or is there something more?

MGMvR: As I said before, I am basically an old-fashioned naturalist very much intrigued by the course of evolution – the laws of Mother Nature. No better place to look for evidence and to feel the breath of evolution than the ancient and untouched Neotropical rain forest, where humans did not play a part earlier than about ten thousand years ago. I past the test in the late seventies studying on my own the diet and ecology of eight sympatric monkeys in the remote pristine rainforests of central Suriname. Humbled by Nature I learned to watch and not to interfere, to feel on ease and not threatened by any of its inhabitants that evolved there in the course of tens of millions of years. As a naturalist and scientist I feel myself an eternal apprentice of monkeys, natives, locals and shamans. Instead of seeking a well-paid deskjob after initial PhD field research I lived for over thirty years up close with the Amazonian rainforest gradually increasing the time spent in the field while coming closer to the end of my career. In a hurry, as if one lifetime is too short to fully comprehend Mother Nature. I think that that distinguishes me from my Brazilian colleagues and fuels envy and xenophobism. More reason to ignore them and seek my paradise. And discover even more novelties…

What do you think about animal protection and environmental regulation in Brasil? Are things improving, getting worse or just staying the same?

MGMvR: Just looking at my professional life as a scientist and environmentalist in Brazil, things dramatically worsened after this leftwingish administration came to power back in 2002. A real witchhunt after environmentalists trying to save the Amazon started in pre-election times of 2002, when some politicians initiated a smear campaign against foreigners said to “rob Brazil from its treasures including its genetic natural patrimony”. Nailing people like me (even naturalized Brazilian as I am) on the environmental cross delivered enough votes among the mostly illiterate people to win the elections. An environmental police state was put in place propagating fascist methods as to anonymously denounce your neighbors who keep a native parakeet or parrot in their yard. Caboclos in the interior who in their ignorance voted for them soon got terrorized for keeping native animals as pets or having a terrapin in the subsistence pot. In retrospect, I mamuru Interview with Marc van Roosmalenthink these people were deliberately targeted to silence them. To disable or discourage them to cry out to the international media what they witnessed was going on in the interior of the Brazilian Amazon. Cleverly they went on with and even accelerated the destruction of the Amazonian rain forest in favor of cattle ranching and soybean, oilpalm and sugarcane (biodiesel!) agriculture under the green denominator of “sustainable development”. Stakes are high. Billions of dollars are pumped into the country through the World Bank and BID thanks to the government’s ‘exemplary’ environmental policy. And the few people who can and might dare to tell the world what is really going on in the Amazon are eliminated (like Dorothy Stang, Peter Blake, James Petersen, e.a.) or thrown in a public jail to perish (like me). And the big foreign conservation entities such as WWF, Greenpeace, Conservation International, among others, have compromised themselves with the autarchy and look the other way…

Anything more you would like to say about environmentalism in Brasil?

MGMvR: No. It is too dangerous to reveal more about this matter. Everything I know I have written down in my “Brazilian Letters” while I was in prison. The document is locked up in a safe. Maybe, the document shall be published in the future. Posthumously…

In the year 2000 you were chosen as one of TIME Magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet”. How did that feel?

MGMvR: It was great but I hurry to say that this fact, together with the global fame that unwillingly came with it, backfired on me two years later, as it certainly contributed to pick me as a political target to promote the myth of ‘biopirataria’ practiced by foreigners – including ‘heroes for the planet’.

When you were arrested on June 15th last year (2007) after having being sentenced to 14 years and 3 months in prison in a trial you, as I understand it, were not aware of, you were taken to the notorious Manaus public jail. I understand that this is a very hard thing to think back on but how was it to get to the jail and can you describe your time there?

MGMvR: It came as a total surprise for me and my wife Vivian as my lawyer (who we later found out took part of the political conspiracy involving also the federal judge who sentenced me) had managed to get me absolved in three state lawsuits brought also upon me back in 2003 accusing me of the same alleged crimes against the natural environment as this federal lawsuit did. Though, in our 2006 written defence my lawyer (deliberately) did not plee for absolvence, which failure the federal judge used to sentence me. Begin June 2007, the sentence was published in the State Courant allowing my lawyer 14 days to appeal. Instead of warning me and enter the appeal he simply left town and let the judge think I would flee the country. Three days before the expiration date for a higher court appeal the judge ordered the feds to pick me up. Only after searching my house, confiscating my Brazilian passport and steal our cash money I was eventually informed about the sentence of 14+ years in public jail and a fine of 155.000 Reais, handcuffed and thrown in the back of a Mitsubishi truck. In triumph, with the siren on, I was taken to the legal medical institute for a health check and then thrown in a cell of the Vidal Pessoas public prison downtown containing sixty or so rapers and murderers using crack and other drugs, stoned out of their mind all the time. I had to stay awake all night and be constantly on the alert not to get killed by my inmates. My brain worked better than ever and I contemplated and revived all relevant events that took place during my 20 yrs stay in Manaus and the Brazilian Amazon. In the daytime I wrote it all meticulously down with a forbidden pencil on fragile napkins. I therefore know exactly who my enemies are, why and how powerful and dangerous they are. You only live twice…

I understand that 12 years and 3 months of your sentence was due to “appropriating” Brazil’s “scientific and genetic patrimony”, auctioning off new species and using it for “commercial gain.” I.e. due to the fact that you used aluminum scaffolding imported duty free for a movie shoot in monkey cages in your breeding center after the movie was completed. The remaining two years was for biopiracy but exactly what was it that they considered biopiracy?

MGMvR: First of all I did not have anything to do with the scaffolding that the late Nick Gordon, working as a cameraman under contract of the British film company Survival Anglia Ltd., after the filming of three wildlife documentaries with me as scientific consultant, did not donate to my former employer – the federal Brazilian Institute for Amazon Research INPA. The scaffolding simply disappeared, probably donated by Gordon to the Brazilian Army. It was assumed that the huge cages I had built in my backyard to house a number of monkeys and birds (what irony, those animals were long before deposited in my quarentaine by the federal institute IBAMA itself) were constructed from imported Layer poles. Instead, I had built them from low-quality galvanized poles I had bought on the local market. Obviously, this was used as a stick/pole to hit me, similar to the mafia boss Al Capone who in the old days only could be jailed on accusation of tax fraud. While searching for the scaffolding I recently was informed by the Federal Police that there was never filed an inquiry against me nor an action investigating my whereabouts. That means that I was illegally sentenced to 14+ years in prison by a federal judge, without a proper investigation by the federal police, and thus fully based on an internal administrative inquiry by my employer without the right to defend myself. Based on this inquiry, early April 2003 I was sacked ‘justa causa’ from my senior scientist position at INPA. The two years for alleged ‘biopiracy’ (a ‘crime’ that was even not defined in the Codigo Civil and Penal) was for running a halfway house for endangered native animals that were confiscated from the illegal trade without the proper license.

You were accused of keeping monkeys without a license but as I understand it you had applied for a license to keep them but it seems unclear if you got the permission. What’s the story here? What caused the confusion?

MGMvR: Back in 1996 they changed the legislation on open zoos and breeding centers for endangered animals. Since then I have applied four times, without success or even a response from Brasilia. Ibama officials told the judge they suspected me to have traded woolly monkeys to zoos in the Netherlands and therefore had ignored my efforts to legalize my compound. When in July 2002 officials and feds, without a warrant from the local judge, came to confiscate and take my monkeys away without the proper equipment to put them asleep, they gave me the license I had so long wished for to save their faces. In November 2002, I entered a protocolized request to have Ibama take away my animals. My argument was that I could no longer maintain them at my own expenses without financial support from the government. They ignored my request. On the 19th of February 2003 Ibama officials managed to get a warrant from the local environmental judge necessary to invade my property. Before the eyes of a crowd of paparazzi they captured the monkeys and took them away in small cages, to Ibama’s headquarters. There they stayed for over three months in the transport cages. The survivers were then transported to the grounds of my former employer INPA after they had taken down my cages and rebuilt them on their grounds. All animals perished to death in the following months and their bodies were incinerated. Four of them, spider monkeys, represented new species for which I lost holotype material necessary to describe them.

You were earlier offered a deal in the case of the aluminum scaffolding which would have forced you to pay 1000$ and hand over the monkeys you kept in the cages. Why did you turn this offer down?

MGMvR: That is total nonsense. I was never offered a deal. This story has been brought into the world by my former colleagues at INPA to demonstrate that I myself was responsible for my ordeal because of my hubris. Instead, it was Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International, who told the reporters of TIME in the July 1, 2002 issue: “We’ve got some monkeys in cages that we know are new species. We just haven’t described them yet.” The whole city of Manaus knew my compound full of healthy monkeys emerging out of a closed neighborhood along the main boulevard of Manaus. His statement triggered the witchhunt forAgouti Interview with Marc van Roosmalen foreign ‘biopirats’ like me, called “the biggest biopirat of Amazonia”. Two weeks after TIME came out with the revelation that there were new species of monkeys kept in my backyard a trap was set up at Barcelos where I was arrested when docking my research boat on the way back from the Serra do Aracá – with four baby monkeys (representing two new primate taxa!) openly on the deck. I had swapped them for frozen chickens with local Indians along the Rio Aracá. And it culminated in a Special Parlamentary Inquiry about illegal animal and plant trafficking called the “CPI de Biopirataria”. During a seven hours lasting interrogation, among a number of other allegations, federal deputees accused me of having sold the name of a new titi monkey – endemic to the Brazilian Amazon and thus part of the nation’s biological and genetic patrimony – for big money to Prince Bernhard, member of the Dutch Royal Family, baptizing it in my 2002 review of the genus the HRH Prince Bernhard titi monkey Callicebus bernhardi.

Most articles that talk about your present situation seem to indicate that your problems are to a not-small part a result of your own hubris. What do you think about this?

MGMvR: This question I answered already above. My former employer INPA is called a “Center of Excellence”, but I call it a “Center of Incompetence”. It is nothing more than a façade. My so-called hubris is forthcoming their envy. They were always keen to pilfer my data from the field. But even so, I always acknowledged the institute in my articles. I would not call that hubris….

You spent 57 days in jail but today you are, at least temporarily, a free man. What do you think about your chances of having the charges against you dropped?

MGMvR: Bleak. Since the politics with respect to so-called crimes against the environment did not change a bit. Instead, they became even harsher. There is a strong class justice here. In my situation living of a bit of humanitarian aid from abroad I cannot afford to contract a famous lawyer to have me absolved through an appeal to the Supreme Court. As my passport has been confiscated last year, accepting a job offer abroad would involve asylum as a political refugee. I would never be able to return to Brazil.

The last I heard you went underground to avoid what you claimed to know were police officers sent to kill you. Do you still live underground or have things calmed down so that you could return home? How is/was it to live underground?

MGMvR: Since I was released from jail I survived two assaults on my life. Hired gunmen who came to my house to silence me, for I know too much. The first time it happened within two days after release with habeas corpus, the second time when a journalist of WIRED spent two weeks in Manaus to interview me and a number of my supposed enemies. This was last January. The videocameras I had installed on my front wall captured the heavily armed gooks – known federal and civil policemen on leave – members of a death squad thus. I denounced them at the Public Ministry but, of course, nothing happened. We therefore went underground for five months. It is terrible to be on the run, especially for my Brazilian wife Vivian who saved my life when I was in jail and still sacrifies herself out of genuine altruistic love. I took advantage from this situation to rewrite and edit my manuscript for a popular-scientific book on the Amazon under contract with a Dutch publishing house. First it will come out in Dutch, in the fall, under the title: “Barefoot through Amazonia: On the Path of Evolution.” It may be clear to the reader of my book that throwing a driven naturalist like me in a life-threatening public jail is worse than a death penalty…

Will this ordeal discourage you from continuing your work in the Brazilian part of the Amazon if you are victorious in the court system?

MGMvR: Yes and no. I certainly will not follow up on my former work studying biodiversity and collecting holotype and DNA samples. That part of biological science has been strongly criminalized in Brazil. One simply cannot get the proper license from the government anymore to collect and transport biological samples from the Brazilian Amazon and study DNA and phylogeny of living things. As a consequence I will continue to go into the field but only try to capture new species on photo and video. Under the current circumstances I hope that peer reviewed scientific journals will accept my papers for publication. If not, I will publish more new species virtually on my website: www.marcvanroosmalen.org

calvus Interview with Marc van RoosmalenI read that the fundraising to help cover your legal costs have been closed. Is this true, and if so, what can people do to help you now?

MGMvR: The Dutch Foundation with their website www.helpmarcvanroosmalen.com successfully raised the 30,000 Euro needed to pay my legal fees. However, contrary to what they on their website pretended to have done, only half that amount was wired to my lawyers. That means that we still owe some of Vivian’s family members the equivalent of 15,000 Euro. That was the amount she borrowed on the date of my imprisonment to have five lawyers enter an appeal to the Higher Federal Court in Brasilia before the expiration date – three days later. We never got this initial loan reimbursed. That is terrible because it was Vivian and her poor family who really saved my life. Without her I would not have survived in the Goelag. Our financial troubles are therefore far from over and any humanitarian aid directly to our account would be most welcome. Moreover, in exchange for any substantial donation that would help us to survive and, more importantly, to continue my quest for new mammalian species and plants I would be more than happy to name any following new species to be published in print or on my website for the donor, a new species at his or her choice. Anybody who likes the idea to be eternally honored for his or her contribution to cryptozoology and nature conservation, please contact me at info@marcvanroosmalen.org.

(After this interview was conducted we talked more with van Roosmalen and created the Blog Monkey Initiative were you can help him and help name a monkey species at the same time. More info here.)

What can people do to help turn Aripuanã into a natural preserve?

MGMvR: I am currently preparing to organize a series of Master Class workshops in biodiversity and nature conservation in the Amazon held on fixed dates starting January 2009 (soon to be announced on www.marcvanroosmalenconsulting.com ). Through these two-week boattrips on the Amazon, Madeira and Aripuanã rivers I hope to pass on part of my thirty years of knowledge and experience in the Amazon, find students to follow up on my research/quest-for-new-species, and sponsors to invest in the establishment of a biological station along the Rio Aripuanã, preferentially along the Rio Arauazinho. In my opinion this would be the best strategy to eventually have this hotspot of biodiversity effectively protected. The last step would then be to have the entire lower Rio Aripuanã Basin declared a Natural World Heritage Reserve. So, please sign in on one of my master-class trips and that way contribute to our long-term goal.

Do you have any plans for new expeditions or have the legal ordeal and going underground put everything else on hold?

MGMvR: For five years my biodiversity research has been put on hold basically for lack of funding and personal financial constraints (legal fees, etc.). Back in 2003 I lost my job, my regular income, my personal patrimony (to my ex), the patrimony of my former NGO the Amazon Association for the Preservation of High Biodiversity Areas (AAP) through a nasty coup by my ex-wife and oldest son, the donations to the AAP, and seed-money from the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation. We gloriously survived it all. Nothwithstanding this I have the energy and drive to pick up the thread where I have left it five years ago. I am anxious to get back to the field, but I do not want to put our lives at risk anymore. Therefore, I think offering master class boattrips into a “Lost World”, a new ecosystem teeming with hitherto unidentified or only recently described wildlife, is my best option for the time being.

I have read rumours that you consider leaving Brazil for Peru and the search for new species for the search of lost cities. Is there any truth to these claims?

MGMvR: I indeed had those thoughts when we lived underground in a country where you are considered wanted, a ‘persona non grata’, because of your plea to keep a substantial part of the Amazonian rain forest standing. Under these circumstances I often thought of fleeing to Peru, asking political asylum and turning myself into a field archaeologist – in search of ancient lost cities using my skills of interpreting satellite images. Archaeology always has been my second choice in professional life. On my biodiversity surveys I did a lot of side studies on prehistoric peoples who left behind ‘black earth’ or ‘terra preta’ anthrosols all over the lowland Amazon.

What is your outlook on the future?

MGMvR: In the conviction that a total stop on deforestation and burning of Amazonian rainforest would be the most effective way to top off the current global warming graph using its huge potential to sequester carbondioxide from the atmosphere and at the same time witnessing the accelerated destruction of the rain forest and its conversion into soybean, sugar cane and oil palm monocultures – a dream the Brazilian government thinks to realize under the green slogan of ‘sustainable development’ – I honestly think that there is no future for the great Amazonian rain forest. It needs only two consecutive extremely dry summers similar to that of the year 2005 to have the entire Amazonian rain forest go up in smoke (and CO2 !). Following that scenario and within a few years Amazonia could turn into a Sahara-like dessert. Thanks to Brazilian politicians who consider Amazonia and its future an “internal” affair.

What advice can you give people who want to become explorers and search for new species like you have spent your life doing?

MGMvR: I would say: join me on one of my Master Class trips into the Madeira and Aripuanã Basins! And, read my book.

Thanks for talking to us!

End of interview

This interview reflects Marc Van Roosmalen’s view of the events and if anyone else involved in this story would like to tell us their view they are welcome to contacts us for an interview.

The blog monkey

After talking a little more with van Roosmalen about his situation after this interview, we got and idea for how AC might help van Roosmalen get back on his feet and back to work – AC would help to create and host the blog monkey initiative! The blog monkey initiative is an attempt to raise money to help van Roosmalen and he has pledged to name a monkey species Lagothrix blogii, the blog monkey, if the initiative reaches it goal. You can learn more about the initiative and how it is progressing here.

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Picture info:
Picture 1: Marc van Roosmalen with juv. female dwarf marmoset Callibella humilis
Picture 2: Dwarf Manatee, Trichechus pygmaeus
Picture 3: Marc van Roosmalen with Dwarf Manatee, Trichechus pygmaeus
Picture 4: Callicebus (hoffmansi) sp.nov. Rio Mamuru titi monkey
Picture 5: Agouti-colored agouti Dasyprocta sp.nov.
Picture 6: Cacajao (calvus) sp.nov. Rio Pauini bald-headed uakary