The decline of the Red Colobus Monkey

In 1868, Sir John Kirk, the British Resident to Zanzibar, stumbled across this beautiful reddish, leaf, fruit and flower-eating primate and had it named after himself. I’m sure Sir John wouldn’t have thought that 100 years later, it would be endangered.

Classified as endangered by both IUCN and CITES, and with an estimated 1000-1200 left in the wild, the Kirk’s Red Colobus Monkey has been at a critical low for the last few decades due to commercial logging, charcoal production, agriculture, cutting trees down for firewood- the typical laundry list of things that lead to habitat loss.

While those that live in this forest of Jozani are protected by the authorities and are no longer shot for food, sport, or ‘pest eradication’, their highly fragmented distribution does not help their fragile existence. The rest of the population live outside the forest and on Pemba island, where they do not enjoy such protection and could, on any day, fall prey to a disgruntled farmer who faces an everyday battle to protect his precious crops and livelihood.This monkey needs and deserves full legal protection across all of Zanzibar to ensure numbers do not drop any further, and better management plans to ensure sustainable solutions to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss.

I am hopeful that this can one day happen. If the monkeys knew they were trending towards extinction- I’m sure they’d be hopeful too.

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