Thomas Butynski and Yvonne de Jong,
Eastern Africa Primate Diversity and Conservation Program
The taxonomy of the Gentle Monkey Cercopithecus mitis has been debated for many decades, mainly due to the complex and wide distribution of its many subspecies. Tanzania and Kenya, together, support no fewer than eight of the currently recognized 17 subspecies. In the most recent issue of Primate Conservation (Issue 34, April 2020), Butynski and De Jong review the taxonomy and distribution of these eight subspecies and describe a new subspecies endemic to central north Tanzania, the Manyara Monkey Cercopithecus mitis manyaraensis. This new subspecies is named after Lake Manyara which lies near the centre of its geographic range.
By Yvonne A. de Jong & Thomas M. Butynski
The degree of threat status for each of Africa’s primate species and subspecies was assessed/reassessed in April 2016 in Rome during the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group’s ‘African Primate Red List Assessment Workshop’. In December 2019, the first 122 of these assessments were published (www.iucnredlist.org).
An unpublished analysis by the late Peter Grubb on the systematics of red colobus monkeys (subgenus Piliocolobus) is now available.
Butynski & De Jong (2018) Geographic range, taxonomy, and conservation of the Mount Kilimanjaro guereza colobus monkey (Primates: Cercopithecidae: Colobus). Hystrix.
The Mount Kilimanjaro guereza colobus monkey is endemic to northern Tanzania and southern Kenya, occurring on and near Mount Kilimanjaro/Mount Meru. Currently referred to as “Colobus guereza caudatus Thomas 1885”, this monkey is geographically very isolated, and phenotypically distinct from all other taxa of guereza monkeys. As such, application of the “Phylogenetic Species Concept” resurrects the Mount Kilimanjaro guereza to specific rank as Colobus caudatus. The geographic range of C. caudatus is small (ca. 4030 km2) and in decline, as is the number of individuals and area of habitat. Colobus caudatus qualifies as an IUCN Red List globally “Endangered” species, as a nationally “Endangered” species in Tanzania, and as a nationally “Critically Endangered” species in Kenya. Colobus caudatus is Kenya’s most threatened species of primate. Recommendations for research and conservation actions are provided.
Read the full publication here
Adult female Mount Kilimanjaro guereza Colobus caudatus at Kitobo Forest Reserve, central south Kenya. Notice that the white tail tuft comprises about 80% of the tail. Photograph by Yvonne de Jong and Tom Butynski.