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Debrazza’s Monkey

DeBrazza's Monkey placard
Scientific Name:
Ceropithecus neglectu

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family:Cercopithecidae

Distribution:Debrazza’s monkeys are found in eastern to central Africa in countries ranging from Cameroon to Ethiopia to Kenya to Angola.

 

Habitat: Debrazza’s monkeys are arboreal, meaning they live in trees, but they are also active on land and have been observed swimming.  They live in closed canopy forests with dense vegetation, and near rivers.  The environments are humid, and may have swamps and seasonal flooding.

Description: Debrazza’s monkeys have grey/black fur all over their bodies.  They grow to between 16 and 25 inches.  Males are larger than females and weigh up to 17 lbs whereas the females weigh up to 9 lbs.  Their heads are round shaped and their faces have an orange crescent on the forehead area, a white muzzle and long, white beard.  Their extremities are black including their tails which are longer than the length of their head and body combined.  They use these long tails for balance.  There are long white stripes on their thighs and rump.  Males have a blue scrotum.  These monkeys have a vocal sac that inflates, allowing them to make loud calls and have check pouches to carry food while they forage.  Their lifespan in the wild is between 20 and 26 years, and in captivity they can live up to 30 years.

Diet: Debrazza’s monkeys are omnivores; however, fruits form the most important part of their diet. They also eat flowers, leaves, mushrooms, beetles, termites, worms, and lizards. At the zoo they are offered Monkey Chow, fruits, and vegetables. While foraging, the monkeys store food in their cheek pouches and then eat it later when they are in a safer area.

Behavior: Debrazza’s monkeys are social animals and often live in small groups of 4-10, though sometimes up to 35. Groups generally consist of one dominant male and many females. A female monkey will often live in her mother’s group for life; however, young males leave the group as soon as they are sexually mature.

They practice three primary modes of communication: visual, vocal, and tactile. Visual communication often occurs between males, especially in conflict situations. Some types of visual communication are staring or yawning to show teeth. Young males establish dominance by strutting around with arched tails and slamming branches. Vocal communication can include low frequency boom calls made by males to indicate territory or isolation calls made by youth when they become separated from the group. Tactile communication is important during mating as well as between mothers and offspring.

Debrazza’s monkeys gather food by hand, foraging in early morning and evening, and are most active during the day. Major predators are large African eagles, other primates, leopards, and humans. These monkeys are comfortable in many different habitats: they dwell in the trees as well as on the ground, and are reported to be excellent swimmers. 

Breeding: Debrazza’s monkeys are sexually dimorphic, meaning that sexual roles are distinct and males are socially dominant. They are polygynous (males have multiple female partners); however, there have been some reports of monogamy. Females remain in their mother’s group for life, while males leave the group when they reach sexual maturity. At this point, males often compete for access to a group of females.

Breeding season generally occurs during February and March, or whenever food is available. Females usually give birth to one infant, though twins are rare. Gestation period is 5-6 months and the average birth weight is about 9 ounces. Time to weaning is 12 months and age at sexual maturity is 5-6 years.

Adaptations: Debrazza’s monkeys have more robust feet than other guenons, which makes them well-adapted to life on the forest floor rather than in the trees. They also have large cheek pouches for temporary food storage, and large incisors to better eat fruit from the trees.

Conservation: The greatest threat to Debrazza’s monkeys is from destruction of the forests in which they live, most of which is due to cultivation for Ethiopian coffee plantations.  They are also vulnerable to animal trade and range fragmentation.  However, they are not considered threatened or endangered.  In 1975, Ethiopia protected these monkeys from hunting or trapping.  They are also protected on the Dja Reserve in Cameroon.

Miscellaneous:

 

MORE ON THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF DEBRAZZA'S MONKEY

Sources:

Bibollet-Ruche, Frederic, et al. "New simian immunodeficiency virus infecting De Brazza's monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus): Evidence for a Cercopithecus monkey virus clade." Journal of Virology. 78.14 (2004): 7748-7762.

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