Colobus Monkey

King Colobus

The king colobus monkey lives in tropical forests that have long periods of dry weather. Such forests are supplied by seasonal rains or monsoons. West Africa has two monsoons each year. Unfortunately, much of the land where monsoon forest grows is also ideal for farming, which is why much of the king cololubus’s forest habitat has been cleared to make way for fields. As a result, the species is currently endangered.

All members of the Colobus genus have black and white fur, but the king colobus monkey is distinctive because most of its body is jet black. Only the whiskers, chest and tail are white.

King colobus monkeys eat leaves during and following the monsoons, but as drought takes hold of the forest the monkeys turn to fruits and other plant foods to survive. King colobus groups contain about twice as many females as males. The males in the group are organized into a strict hierarchy and rarely interact with each other. Fights are rare, occurring only it a subordinate male believes he can defeat a higher-ranking group member. The ranking system is tested most frequently during the breeding season, which coincides with the rains. Males compete by calling; the dominant male has the loudest call.

Distribution: West Africa.

Habitat: Monsoon forests. Food: Leaves, fruits and flowers.

Size: 45 - 72 cm (17.75 - 28.25 in); 5 - 14 kg (11 - 30.75 lb).

Maturity: 1.8 - 2.1 years.

Breeding: Single baby born every 2 years.

Life span: 18 years.

Status: Endangered.

Olive Colobus

This monkey is found in the coastal rainforests of West Africa. The colobus monkey is most commonly seen in the dense undergrowth that grows beneath the high canopy. It moves higher up to sleep in the middle branches when night falls but never climbs to the top of the forest. It is often found close to running water.

The olive colobus has a little head, a short muzzle and rather subdued coloration. Male and female are about the same size, but the female lacks the crest of upright hairs that the male sports on his crown. Olive colobus monkeys have larger feet than any of the related colobus species and also have very small thumbs. These adaptations allow the monkeys to grip branches as they climb, although reduce their ability to pluck food items.

Other males live in separate groups. Groups of olive colobuses are often seen with Diana monkeys. When a Diana monkey gives an alarm call to warn others of an approaching predator, the olive colobus monkeys freeze, their grey-green fur making them hard to spot among the leaves.

The olive colobus is the smallest of the African colobus monkeys. It has a coat of olive green. Males the same size as females l have larger canine teeth. The teeth are used in fights.

The monkeys sleep and take refuge in the middle layers of the forest, but feed on the lowest branches. These monkeys do not climb into the treetops and only rarely come down to the ground. Olive colobus monkeys search out the youngest and juiciest leaves. When this food is not available, they will eat the stalks of older leaves, flowers and seeds. They are rather quiet monkeys and make few sounds.

Reproductive details are not known for this monkeys except that the mother carries her baby in her mouth for the first few weeks after birth — a habit shared only with other species of colobus. These colobus monkeys have no breeding season. A female reproduces every two years or so. When the female is on heat, her perineum swells. The pregnancy lasts between five and six months.

Distribution: Coastal region of West Africa, with a small, isolated population living in eastern Nigeria.

Habitat: Understory and middle branches of rainforest generally near to water.

Food: Young leaves, seeds and shoots.

Size: 9 - 43 cm (3.5 - 17 in); 2.1 - 4.6 kg (4.75 - 10 lb).

Maturity: 2.8 - 4.2 years.

Breeding: Single baby born every 2 years.

Life span: 28 years in captivity, probably less in the wild.

Status: Lower risk.

Angola Colobus

Range: Africa: Angola to Kenya.

Habitat: Forest.

Size: Body: 19 3/4 - 26 1/4 in (50 - 67 cm). Tail: 24 3/4 - 35 1/2 in (63 - 90 cm).

Angolan colobus monkeys are close relatives of the guereza and king colobus. Like these species, the Angolan colobus monkey has black and white fur. It also has white epaulettes and white cheeks, throat and brow. In addition to inhabiting Angola, this species ranges as far north as Cameroon along the western side of Central Africa. It survives in a range of habitats from bamboo rainforests to swamps and savannahs. Like other colobus species, this monkey is primarily a forest animal. It eats mainly leaves but survives drought by consuming bark, clay and insects. The monkeys often climb down beside streams to eat the herb and water plants that grow there.

Colobus monkeys have long limbs and tails and robust bodies. They have only four fingers on each hand, their thumbs being vestigial or absent. The Angolan colobus monkey is one of several black and white species and, with its sturdy body and rounded head, is typical of its genus. It is identified by the characteristic long white hairs on its shoulders, but the many races of this species differ slightly in the extent of the white on shoulders and tail.

Colobus monkeys live in family troops, led and guarded by an old male. As young males mature, they either go off alone or found their own troops. Each troop has its own territory, with feeding areas and sleeping trees, but may sometimes join with other troops to form a group of 50 or so. The animals are active in the daytime, with a period of rest or grooming at midday. Much of their food, such as leaves, fruit, bark and insects, is found in the trees, where they run and leap with astonishing agility, so they rarely need to descend to the ground.

The females give birth to 1 young after a gestation of 147 to 178 days. The baby starts to climb at 3 weeks, but suckles and stays with its mother for well over a year. Females will suckle young other than their own.