The Black & White Colobus Monkey

The Black and White Colobus Monkey is closely related to the Red Colobus. There are 5 species and 8 known sub-species. Their fur is mostly black, but with white fur surrounding their facial features and long white fur, in a U shape, forming on their back. The babies of Eastern Black and White Colobus are born purely white and their fur gradually changes colour as they get older.

The name Colobus comes from the Greek word Kolobós meaning “docked” pertaining to their very small thumbs. A Colobus’ thumb being small allows it to swing through trees with more efficiency, using their 4 fingers as hooks to swing from branches. They are considered the most arboreal (tree-dwelling) monkey.

They mostly live-in high-density forests in Central African countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Kenya. Their diet consists primarily of leaves whilst occasionally eating fruits and flowers. They can live up to 30 years and have a gestation period of 6 months. These monkeys have complicated social groups which differ greatly in size and structure. Groups tend to be territorial and size can range from as little as 3 and up 15 individuals. Previously, they were thought to live in groups consisting of one dominant male and several females. However, groups with multi-male and multi-female members have been observed. Allomothering (where parental care is given by a group member that isn’t a biological parent) is often seen in this species.

They can be susceptible to hunting for the bush-meat trade and for their fur and skin. But this species is known to be especially vigilant when in low-canopy and whilst not in close quarters to other members. They are also threatened by logging and habit fragmentation.

Colobus Conservation is a not-for-profit organization that works to support and advocate conservation, to ensure the long-term survival of the nationally threatened Angolan Black and White Colobus monkey (Colobus angolensis palliatus) and other primates on the South Coast of Kenya. Their work focuses on the following areas; Conservation, Animal Welfare, and Education. They have numerous projects concentrating on data collection, solutions for human/primate conflicts, primate protection and rescue, community social development and education, forest protection/enrichment and eco-tourism awareness program.

Written by Emily Elmer – Wildlife Conservation Today Contributor

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