by Andrew Marshall
new three-year project will look at rare monkeys in the Udzungwa
Mountains of Tanzania.
main focal animal of the project will be the threatened Udzungwa
red colobus monkey (Procolobus gordonorum).
predominantly leaf-eating monkeys are listed as vulnerable by the
World Conservation Union (IUCN) and are known only from a handful
of forests in and around the Udzungwa Mountains.
important species is the Sanje mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus sanjei).
Discovered only in 1979, this large monkey is among the rarest primates
Udzungwa red colobus is known to have some peculiar behaviours.
Since July 2001 a few observations have been made of monkeys eating
is thought to assist digestion in a similar way to charcoal consumption
by other animals.
noteworthy observation has been the high level of interaction between
different species of monkeys.
of the Udzungwa monkeys form mixed-species groups for varying lengths
of time. Red colobus and black and white colobus monkeys associate
together more frequently in the Udzungwa Mountains than closely
related colobus species in any other African forests.
regular instances of mixed group-species grouping are peculiar given
that they are also competitors for food.
the new project, Ph.D. student, Andy Marshall, will be investigating
the effect of forest habitat degradation on the monkeys.
major concern is that habitat degradation may be causing population
decline. It's also likely to have had serious impacts on social
groups, the central units of monkey society.
turn habitat degradation may also decrease friendly interactions
between the two colobus species, reduce social group size and therefore
increase vulnerability to predators.
will begin in June and will include counts of monkey groups and