A new study on the kinkajou, and its importance for the pres

The last major studies on the kinkajou, in the Amazon, date back more than 30 years. The National Museum of Natural History recently studied this small, carnivorous, nocturnal mammal in the Guyanese forest. Result, small in size, about 45 cm, it is fundamental for the regeneration of the forest.

The kinkajou, with its woolly coat and two large bulging eyes, spends its days sleeping.

If its dentition, classifies it in the order of carnivores, the kinkajou, feeds mainly on fruits, flowers, pollen nectar. A mammal, nocturnal, very little studied. To succeed in discovering the importance of the kinkajou in Guyanese biodiversity, a team from the National Museum of Natural History, conducted the investigation, and carried out a study rich in lessons.

Amazon forest

View of the Amazon rainforest


A study to analyze the impact of the opening of a national road on the diversity of fauna. The chosen area, the section between Regina and Saint-Georges de l’Oyapock. On this road, there are no less than 11 ecological corridors, this natural device, to improve the passage of wildlife, on either side of the road.

The team, made up of researchers and climbers, placed camera traps in the canopy on a dozen “yayamadou mountain” trees. It shows, a fundamental element, during the fruiting season, the “spy devices” could reveal, the high frequency of the kinkajou. The research team from the National Museum of Natural History, and the arborists from Société Hévéa, conclude that:

The diversity of the fruit species it consumes invites us to consider it as an important seed disperser, complementary to other animals, which are also dispersers, but of larger size in the Guyanese forest.

Seguigne, Coutant, Picart, Bouton, Guilbert, Forget

Natural History Museum

The size of the seeds dispersed by the frugivorous animals observed in the yayamadou-mountain thus suggests that the Kinkajou, although low in weight -2-5 kg), can compensate for the loss of other larger and diurnal frugivorous vertebrates (5-10 kg) of the canopy.

Seguigne, Coutant, Picart, Bouton, Guilbert, Pierre-Michel Forget

Kinkajou (Potos flavus, Procyonidae) in a mountain yayamadou, nocturnal photo

©Pierre-Michel Forget and Eric Guilbert MNHN

To study the kinkajou, cameras are essential. A well-established scientific practice of data collection. From 2019, several researchers and climbers, from the Museum, and from the Hévéa company, have installed these devices. The data acquired was analyzed within the ECOTROP team, from the MECADEV Museum-CNRS research unit.

For Pierre-Michel Forget,

the kinkajous, can compensate for the kwata monkey or spider monkey which disappears in disturbed forests because of hunting and the exploitation of the trees, on which they feed. The kinkajou is comparable in size (2-5 kg) to the capuchin monkey or sapajou (3 kg), but smaller than the kwata and howler monkeys (8-10 kg). Also, the kinkajou cannot disperse larger seeds > 30 mm in length. however, it will be able to disperse a large number of plant species with seed sizes between 10 and 20 mm in length, such as kwata monkeys.

Pierre-Michel Forget

Professor of Tropical Ecology at the National Museum of Natural History



This information collected during the study is fundamental for conservation. Guyana finds itself in a context of increasing anthropization (modification of a natural environment by human activities). The demand for wood is high, compensation for seed dispersal by small frugivores is very valuable for forest regeneration.

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