The Western Red Colobus Monkey, I really love these fellas.
They grow to about 18 to 26 inches and have a slightly longer tail (approx 28 inches)
With an average weight of 14 lbs, a large male can be as much as 24lbs. As we can see from the photos below they have a beautiful reddish-brown head and arms. Also a black, charcoal-grey or dark brown upper body. Unlike other monkeys in the family Colobus whose nostrils are V-shaped, the Western Red has a sort of button nose. They have elegant long digits (fingers) and although you can’t see it from the photo, they have short big toes.
We live in the trees you know!
Found all over West Africa, we make our home in trees and live mostly in primary rainforest, secondary and gallery forest. Social creatures, they live in colonies. These groups vary in size from say twelve to large groups of say eighty. You will usually find one male for every two or three females.
Did you know we’re vegetarian?
We definitely don’t eat meat. A delicious meal for us would be fresh young leaves, flowers, and unripened fruit. Having special salivary glands means we can breakdown our food even before it reaches our stomachs.
When food reaches our stomach, we have four chambers which means that we can digest food for longer and get the maximum nutrients from what we eat. it also means we can eat toxic plants which our cousins cannot.
Why don’t chimps like us?
Chimpanzees don’t generally eat meat but they will make an exception for us Colobus.
They target our females and infants and evidence suggests they do so to increase their own social status.
In 1994, Western Red Colobus Monkeys infected many chimps with Ebola virus when the chimps hunted the monkeys as prey.
The Western Red Colobus Monkey is an endangered species.
Unfortunately, there are several reasons for this in The Gambia and all of them man-made.
Deforestation, the non-controlled cutting down of forests for a profit with little regard for the well-being of its inhabitants. This has left Gambia’s monkey population with little choice other than to spill over into towns and villages. They are becoming more used to people due to necessity. And also through poor management in tourist attractions such as monkey parks. Visitors are encouraged to feed the monkeys with peanuts. Not because its good for the monkeys or the visitors but because vendors can make money from selling the peanuts. Even with signs saying “please don’t feed the monkeys” it’s openly encouraged by the park, its employees and local guides. A sad and sorry state of affairs indeed for our friend the Red Colobus.
These beautiful photos were taken by our good friend Rob Garner😀