Wildsolutions

Is the Southern Patas Monkey Africa’s Next Primate Extinction?

Yvonne A. de Jong and Thomas M. Butynski

The charismatic, semi-terrestrial, southern patas monkey Erythrocebus baumstarki, is probably now restricted in the protected savannas of the western Serengeti (central northern Tanzania). It seems that, at present, fewer than 200 individuals occupy about 15% (9,700 km²) of their early 20th century geographic range. This large, slender, long-limbed, primate once occurred in the acacia woodlands near Mount Kilimanjaro and in southern Kenya but was extirpated from these areas prior to 2016 due to factors related to the rapidly increasing human population. The main threats are the degradation, loss, and fragmentation of natural habitats, and competition with people and livestock for habitat and water. Poaching and domestic dogs are also threats. As a result, this shy and secretive monkey is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [Website:  https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/92252436/92252442].

In the absence of focused conservation actions, it appears that the southern patas monkey will be among the first three primate extinctions recorded for continental Africa during the past century. Miss Waldron’s red colobus Piliocolobus waldroni of southern Ghana and southeastern Côte d’Ivoire was last reliably recorded in 1978, while the Mount Kenya potto Perodicticus ibeanus stockleyi is only known from a museum specimen collected in 1938.

In our recent publication (De Jong, Y.A. & Butynski, T.M. 2021. Is the Southern Patas Monkey Erythrocebus baumstarki Africa’s Next Primate Extinction? Reassessing Taxonomy, Distribution, Abundance, and Conservation. American Journal of Primatology, e23316) we assess the historic geographic distribution of the southern patas monkey and give evidence for its former occurrence in Kenya. We present estimates of the current distribution and population size, review the threats, and express our concern for its continued survival. We conclude with suggestions for conservation actions, including research. The objective of this article is to bring attention to the plight of this poorly known species, thereby promoting its long-term conservation.

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Biogeography of the Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758) in Africa, with first records for Laikipia County, central Kenya

New article:

Dedan K. Ngatia, Paul W. Webala, Mugo J. Mware, Thomas M. Butynski,  Yvonne A. de Jong, Adam W. Ferguson (2021). African Journal of Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/aje.12830

Abstract: The paucity of studies on Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758) in Africa highlights the need for baseline information on the geographic range of this species as well as factors that may determine its distribution. This study presents eight novel locality records of H. ichneumon in Laikipia County, central Kenya, addresses questions on the species’ distribution in Africa, and predicts environmental (climatic) suitability across its range. From a total of 4,822 H. ichneumon occurrence records, we used 4,432 georeferenced records to generate distribution maps, conduct ecological niche modelling, and identify environmental limits for this species across its range with a focus on Africa. 20% of all records originate from continental Africa, including 121 records for Kenya. Despite extensive field research and predicted habitat suitability, H. ichneumon has not been previously reported in Laikipia County. Our niche models, however, predicted parts of Laikipia to be environmentally suitable for H. ichneumon. Similarly, our new distribution maps show extended geographic ranges both in Laikipia and Kenya as compared to the 2016 IUCN map. The eight Laikipia records underscore the limited knowledge for this species, its distribution, and its environmental requirements in Africa.

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Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon, Tumbili Estate, Laikipia, Kenya. Photograph by Yvonne de Jong & Tom Butynski.

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The Manyara Monkey: A New Subspecies of Monkey Endemic to Tanzania

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.

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