The 13 Primates in Nyungwe

The 13 Primates of Nyungwe

The 13 Primates of Nyungwe are the most prominent primate species of the park which add a touch of scenery to the attractions in this montane Forest. Nyungwe Forest National Park is a home of 20-25% of all the primates of Africa. There are very few habituated primates of them for tourism purposes, although there is a plan to keep habituating others, such as Grey-cheeked mangabeys. The only primates that are surely habituated and visited by tourists are Angolan Colobus monkey and Chimpanzees.

Meet the 13 primates of nyungwe include: 

Blue Monkey

Blue monkey is not blue as many think it is, but its color is somewhat light grey and olive which in the canopy of the trees gives out the blue color. It’s one of the 13 Primates of Nyungwe.

They are evergreen forest dwellers, found from the equatorial forests in East Africa and some other parts of Africa. They prefer living in the canopy of trees, which makes seeing them difficult. For one to see them in Nyungwe national park, you need to spend your time looking up otherwise you won’t. They like to appear in the trail to the canopy walkway, Umuyove trail and around Uwinka reception center. They rarely come to the ground for food but sometimes they do. Blue monkeys live in a group of females, infants, and one single male. At the maturity of the young males, they join the males. There is also a group of females and one dominant male. Besides feeding they spend a long time playing and grooming each other.

L’hoest Monkey

This kind of monkey species is widely spread in central Africa mostly in the tropical mountain rainforest countries such as; East of DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. They are mountain forest dwellers and they like living in the primary moist forests than any other type of forest. They also prefer to occupy different levels of the forest altitude which makes confusion when it comes to confirming which altitude level they like to be in. Many types of research confirmed that they live in altitude between 610m-300m above the sea level and due to this, they can be found at the edge of the forests and near cultivation areas also lowland forests.

Socially they live in groups made of females and mostly one male. They are diurnal primates i.e. they are very active in the morning and evening. Although, they are primates and they spend most of their time on ground (terrestrial primate). When it comes to the night they sleep in trees sitting and sometimes they sleep holding each other. They don’t like to be seen otherwise they run and hide.

The gestation period is between five to six months and they like giving birth in the late and beginning of the rainy season as they target availability of food so that the female will be able to nurse the newborn. Their newborn is always carried on the mother’s belly. When you enter Nyungwe there are plenty of them around the road because they have evolved the behavior of eating sweets from the rubbish people throws in the park when passing through, which is illegal and not allowed.

Owl-faced monkeys

They live in the East of Congo, Uganda in Kibale forest and Northwest Rwanda. The species likes to live in high elevation from 900m to 4600m above the sea level.

And it has proved that they live in a small group of up to or less than ten individuals. A group is made by females and one single male. They are diurnal and spend most time traveling during the day. Like other primates in Nyungwe National Park, the owl-faced monkeys are not easy to see along the trails, or on road.  

Golden monkeys

Golden monkeys are endemic to the Albertine Rift and live in high mountain rain forests in the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. The preferred habitation for Golden monkeys is a bamboo forest, but they prefer this bamboo mixed with fruits. So they live in an area because there is the food they like. For example, if they found an area with ripe fruits, they will go there until the bamboo starts to sprout new leaves and this is usually in the rainy season.

Golden monkeys sometimes make many groups, couples or move in big groups. When they go away for feeding in the night, they will all come back to a specific place for sleeping. They sleep in small groups of not more than four individuals. Even though Golden monkeys are herbivores, they enjoy fruits more than anything, yet they also feed on some invertebrates. 

Red-tailed monkey

Red-tailed monkey is quite spread in many countries in Africa, from south to north. It is one of the 13 primate species in Nyungwe that can survive from different habitats and situation. This species name has come from its red tail. They have a different kind of making communication, like physical communication, vocal communication, and visual communication. But they use visual communication when they need to scare away the predators or warning the other in the group. Physical communication is like the one of every animal trying to show out how strong it is or showing the dominance, also in greeting between group members.  

This species has a cheek in which they can store food in. In their feeding, they are considered omnivores although they like fruits more. But they feed on a variety of food types such as insect, leaves, fruits and some roots. When feeding they store much of the food in their cheek, and no way to consume them where they feel it’s safe for them.

In their reproduction, they give birth to only one single offspring at each breeding season, and they are polygynous.

Crowned monkey

Female and male crowned monkeys are somewhat similar in color but differ in size. The male is larger than the female and they are mostly found in the rainforest lowland as they prefer the primary and secondary type of forests.

Their group cannot be more than 25 individuals of females and one single male within the group. The male makes high responsible calls, such as one hard call for alarm, and another noisy one for announcing that they arrive or they are there.

The Crowned monkey has also facial signs it makes like when they see a predator down, they will look down attentively, so the other will directly know what it means after seeing others in such position. The group in Nyungwe has not seen along the main trails though they are seen in the dense forests. They tend to be frugivorous, and insectivorous.

Dent’s Mona Monkey

Mona monkeys are found in many countries of Africa across West, central, and South. Mona monkeys prefer rainforests, but also survive in the mangrove swamps, woodlands since they are territorial primates. They are considered to be old world primates. Male and female are similar but sexual dimorphic in size.

Socially female leads the group, they have many females in the group and fewer males which allows polygamy. Interestingly when females are in estrus no one can know they show out no sign. The interval of giving birth is two years and the gestation period is six months or a little bit below. One single infant is born at a time but twins may be born which is unusual. After one year the infant is trained to forage while reducing nursing it buys its mother. From two to five years the young is on maturity it is ready for sex. 

Mona monkeys stay in the groups and when eating they rely on a wide diet from fruits leaves to invertebrates which make them omnivores and they store half of what they ate in the cheek pouch.

In Nyungwe this species it is not easy to see them in troops or small groups, since there is only one mona monkey that lives in the group of Gisakura Colobus monkeys. According to the trackers, this mona monkey acts like a spy for Colobus monkeys when Colobus monkeys are going to move, the mona monkey will go first and check the area they are going to. If the place is safe it will come back and give Colobus monkey go ahead, it’s quite mysterious until you trek this Gisakura Colobus monkeys group and see it yourself.

Velvet Monkey

Velvet monkeys also have been described as old world monkeys, they are sexually dimorphic and the males in much larger and bigger than females.

Socially males when they reach maturity they move out but females will stay in the group; male to the dominance in the family depends on the age, fighting abilities. The different group tends to be enemies although sometimes they can become friends when one group shows aggression to each other there is time for each one to be aggressive. Velvet monkeys sometimes they destroy the opposes velvet monkeys food and not consume the food 

It was confirmed that the predators of vervet monkeys are; leopard, baboons, pythons, and eagles, so velvet monkeys have evolved the specific alarm calls for that. If an individual saw a given predator will make an alarm call to inform others, they also respond to that call, it to say that they are able to understand what the call is warning for. They really use a different alarm to call for land or flying predator, also a specific call when they see human coming across.

In their relationships and reproduction velvet monkeys they use allomother system, this means when a given female give birth the newborn becomes the baby to all females in the group and young females, not like humans. This boosts the relation and interaction within the family, most of the time this female who is not yet able to reproduce they are the one practicing allomother, mostly. And these young females will make the choice to which sibling, the young female wants to allomother. Also the grandmothers they involve in the allomother. Truly females velvet monkeys they don’t show any sign of menstruation period, the gestation period is 165 days from September to February, they give birth to a single offspring but twin also can, they give birth once a year.

Velvet monkeys seem to be omnivores, their diet is quite wide because they also feed on insect, roots, leaves, in the cultivation areas they eat all crops planted.  They are luckily part of the 13 primates of Nyungwe.

Olive baboon

The Olive baboon is among the first spreading primate; it is a presence in many African countries than any other primate species. They occupy many different habitats such as mountainous forest, savannah and also Sahara desert.

The name Olive Baboon was lent from its color of the coat, baboon they are sexually dimorphic, here is to say that males are bigger in size than females, and their teeth are different in size. There is no largest species of monkey than an Olive baboon, like some other primates’ baboon has cheek pouch in which they store food while feeding.

Ecologically and socially Olive Baboon live in the group made up of many females, infants, and fewer females. The group may be big as 15-150 individuals, in the group the males will be ranked according to their dominance in the group, while females, the young one will be ranked in accordance with its mother’s rank. When the troop has become too big they may split up, this is to avoid the competition of resources; food and shelters. When young males reach maturity age they will leave the group and join another group. The only dominance male in the group mates, and has the first access to the food, so the fight for dominating in the group is always there. When it comes to which direction to take, Olive baboon here they vote, and they will take direction according to the votes, they never follow a single one, even it can be dominant.

When the infant is born it’s the mother’s responsibilities to be a caregiver, not like some other primates Olive baboon they never practice allomother. But the young female nearly maturities they are always acting like allomother this is to experience how rearing feels like and prepare them.  The infant will be always on mother’s belly by the time they are not yet able to move on their own, males also do a part in rearing the infant, such protecting it from the predator like chimpanzees, or any other predator.

Olive baboon, in Nyungwe national park they are many than any primate species most of the time they are on the forest edge. This is the first park’s animals in conflict with local communities due to stealing their crops from the farm; they raised a kind of great conflict. They have become familiar with cooked food, and they have become brave for it when they saw cooked one, they ready to fight.

Vocally Olive baboons they have a different call, for warning or calling even facial expressions, most of the time they use a given warning call depending on the predator they saw and those being alarmed will directly understand which predator is coming. They have a special one for humans, chimpanzees, and others.

Olive baboons have succeeded of occupying many habits, because of their wide diet, they are lucky because are omnivores feeds on every forest level from beneath the soil to the upper story of the forest and meats.

Grey-cheeked mangabeys

Grey-cheeked mangabeys, they are found from central African forests, from Cameroon to Gabon, the species is old world primate with thick fur. There no big difference between males and females if don’t look well, the easy different they have is, they differ in size, males are quite big than females. Their habitat varies because they live in tropical forests, swamps, primary and secondary forest, they generally feed on figs, fruits, insect and flowers.

Socially they form a group of about 30 individuals or small groups of 5and above, males at their maturity they live group and join another group, but the females will stay. The group of Grey-cheeked Mangabeys made of females and males, or a single male which is unusual, normally they don’t have dominant male as other primates do. If the troop is big than the covered territory they split. But they usually against other troops, they cover a wide territory, and they once one troop leave the territory another will occupy it that’s how they keep circulating.

The troop in Nyungwe national park is on the next plan of primates to be habituated, as the park needs to have alternatives beyond chimpanzees and Colobus monkeys.

Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees, one of the great Ape, the species live in the forest of the tropicals and savannahs at the other hand they are native from there. The species has black fur but may change to grey or ginger as they grow old, toes, hands, palm, and bare face; faces of chimpanzees don’t look the same, each one looks particularly, as a human being.

The infant of chimpanzees are accustomed to forage than mother’s milk at their three years, the gestation period is eight months, mother and the infants keeps their relation longer for plenty of years. Chimps will always stay in a troop of about 150 individuals or below that number to 15 individuals, but when feeding they will split themselves into small groups. The species is high intelligence they may hunt little mammals using spears that they made themselves and those spears are a sharp one, in Nyungwe national park they use a small stick to trick termites and ants in the hole, as well as honey, there are parties in Western where chimps play a great role in. the biggest threats of chimps are habitat loss, poaching also disease.

Although chimpanzees are the closest relatives of human, they are quite amazing than human, chimps are among the amazing Ape. They have long arms than legs which may reach below knees. Their locomotion also is quite amazing; they are arboreal and terrestrial because they climb trees, jumping from tree to another using their four limbs. But again when moving on land they can do that on their two legs or using their legs and arms, chimps physically are stronger than people. They attract humans for their famous park activity called Chimpanzee trekking.

The diet of chimpanzees are wide, from leaves, roots, bark, bugs, stem, ants, termite, honey but their first preferable food is fruits over another kind of food. When gorillas and chimpanzees are in the same area feeding, and much food is there, they never feed on same food but when there is no fruit for chimps a little bit competition may occur although they all avoid such thing.

Angolan Colobus monkeys

These Black And White Angolan Colobus Monkeys in Nyungwe Forest are also known as Ruwenzori colobus monkeys and are the biggest troop of the monkeys in the park. Their number ranges from 350-400 individuals. They are also the biggest troop of the Colobus monkeys in the other troops of African countries.

The troop can contain many other groups but in one troop and in Nyungwe, they are found around Uwinka reception center and like living in the center of the park. The predator of the Colobus monkeys are chimpanzees, eagles, and pythons. They are among the primates that are able to jump long distances from 10-15m long. While moving they don’t go so fast but they move and forage a little bit and move again which allows and favors tourist to have look at them well.

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