East Africa's Rare Red Colobus Monkeys

March 14, 2012
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Red colobus monkeys, native to East Africa, are extremely rare, so travelers going on a Kenya and Tanzania safari should familiarize themselves with the monkeys so they know what to look out for. Most prominently, colobus moneys do not have thumbs like other monkeys, explaining how they got their name which comes from the Greek word for "mutilated." These primates tend to stick to the trees and travel in groups of five to 10, so if you're lucky enough to spot one overhead, watch for more.

You might hear the colobus monkey before you see it, but if you hear their song-like calls promptly cease, you might want to find shelter. The colobus become silent when inclement weather approaches. When conditions are good however, these primates will jump from branch to branch playing and shouting with one another. The colobus prefers to eat newly-grown leaves from the branches of the trees, and has a resilient stomach as these leaves are filled with toxins other animals avoid.

There are many different subspecies of the red colobus living in Africa, but those living in the Eastern regions such as in Kenya and Tanzania have been on the IUCN Endangered Species list since 1986, getting elevated to "Critically Endangered" in 2000. While traveling with International Expeditions’ knowledgeable native driver/guides, nature travel enthusiasts can learn more about these thumbless monkeys and what threatens their livelihood.


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