Weird and Wonderful #3 - The Mantled Guereza

By Cameron | December 3, 2015

The Mantled Guereza

The mantled guereza (Colobus guereza), also known simply as the guereza, is a type of Old World monkey. It is native to much of west central and east Africa, including Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Chad. It has a distinctive appearance, which is is where it got its name; the long white fringes of hair that run along each side of its black trunk are known as a mantle. Its face is framed with white hair and it has a large white tail tuft.

It can cope with habitat disturbance and is an adaptable species that prefers secondary forest close to rivers or lakes. Although previously thought only to eat leaves, we now know it also eats seeds, fruits, and arthropods. It is able to digest plant material with a high fibre content with its specialized stomach, similar to that of a cow, and may only eat from a few plant species at a time. It is prey to birds of prey and some mammals, such as the common chimpanzee and the leopard.

The mantled guereza lives in social groups of three to as many as fifteen individuals. These groups normally include a dominant male, several females, and the offspring of the females. It has a polygynous mating system and copulation is initiated with vocal communication. The gestation period is just over five months and infants are born with pink skin and white fur, which darkens to the adult coloration by three to four months. The mantled guereza is well known for its dawn chorus, the males’ “roar” is a method of long distance communication that reinforces territorial boundaries. It also makes other vocalization and uses body postures, movements, and facial expressions to communicate.

The mantled guereza is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because it is widespread – although it is locally threatened in some areas, the decline is not great enough to list it in a higher category of threat. However, one subspecies found in Kenya is listed as Endangered. It can survive well in degraded forests and in some areas it is more common in logged areas than unlogged ones. The mantled guereza is also threatened by hunting for bushmeat and for its skin.

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