It’s a mini-Africa Week  at the moment on 10,000 Birds, with Adam talking about spectacular bee-eaters in his post and James discussing the diminutive African Pygmy-geese. I’m heading in a slightly different direction, focussing on a group we haven’t really looked at here before, but one that most people enjoy seeing, monkeys!

Kibale National Park, in the west of the Central African nation of Uganda, is home to a 13 primate species, from Common Chimpanzees to bush-babies. I was living there to work on what at the time was called the Grey-cheeked Mangabey, but is today known as the Ugandan Mangabey. The park also had a wide range of other monkeys, all of which I managed to see quite regularly working in the forest, but today I want to show you one of the most striking species, as well as one of the easiest to see.

The Mantled Guereza, (Colobus guereza)

The Mantled Guereza, also known as the Eastern Black-and-white Colobus or Abyssinian Black-and-white Colobus, is a common forest species found across the rain forests and savannah woodlands of central Africa from Cameroon to Kenya, with a separate population across most of Ethiopia. The species has a reputation for being an obligate leaf eater, but actually has a wider diet than that, although leaves certainly form a large part of the diet.

These shots were taken about twenty yards outside my house in the Makerere University field station at Kanyawara. The troop had been habituated for a study and I was able to approach them to an insanely close degree. They weren’ the only primates we saw around the station, baboons were common, as were Ugandan Red Colobus. Sometimes even chimps wandered close to the camp, and I once saw a Thomas Bush Baby outside my house as well.

 Feeding on the succulent new leaves.

The faces look like those of old wizened men!

This particular species is doing better than many African primates; it readily adapts to altered woodlands and forests, although it is hunted for food across its range. It remains a fairly easy species to find, but no less spectacular for it! They may not even be most beautiful species of monkey in Uganda, the guenons are even more attractive to my mind, but they are certainly the most striking. Long may they remain so.

Okay, they can be a little tricky to spot at times.

Written by Duncan
Duncan Wright is a Wellington-based ornithologist working on the evolution of New Zealand's birds. He's previously poked albatrosses with sticks in Hawaii, provided target practice for gulls in California, chased monkeys up and down hills Uganda, wrestled sharks in the Bahamas and played God with grasshopper genetics in Namibia. He came into studying birds rather later in life, and could quit any time he wants to.