A rare monkey not seen for nearly half a century and thought to be extinct has been spotted by two primatologists working in a Congo forest. Their expedition yielded the first-ever photograph of the elusive Bouvier’s red colobus monkey.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported the good news this week after researchers Lieven Devreese and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo returned from the Ntokou-Pikounda National Park, a protected area that safeguard gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, and other species.
“We’re very pleased indeed that Lieven and Gaël were able to achieve their objective of not only confirming that Bouvier’s red colobus still exists, but also managing to get a very clear close-up picture of a mother and infant,” said WCS’s Dr. Fiona Maisels. “Thankfully, these colobus monkeys live in the recently gazetted national park and are protected from threats such as logging, agriculture, and roads, all of which can lead to increased hunting.”
Bouvier’s red colobus (Piliocolobus bouvieri) is a species of monkey endemic to the Republic of Congo, about which virtually nothing is known. First described in 1887, it is only known from a couple of museum specimens collected from three localities over 100 years ago. The authors of a book written in 1949 mention that the species lives in the swamp forests of the region, but the last unverified sightings of Bouvier’s red colobus monkey occurred in the 1970s.
Red colobus monkeys (there are several species) typically do not flee from humans but look down at them from the trees, an unfortunate behavioral characteristic that has led to them becoming very rare wherever hunters are active. Hunting and logging decimated its population, leading some scientists to suggest the monkey was extinct.
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