A beautiful little monkey called Bouvier's red colobus, Piliocolobus bouvieri, had been presumed extinct for decades. But two primatologists returning from the forests of the Republic of the Congo have just shared the news that the monkeys are alive and hanging on!
Bouvier's red colobus was first described in 1887, and they’re known from just a couple of museum specimens collected from three localities over a century ago. These monkeys are only found in the Republic of the Congo, and according to a 1949 text, they occur between the lower Likouala and Sangha Rivers, as well as along the Alima River farther south. Several species of red colobus monkeys are highly threatened by the bushmeat trade, and unfortunately, it doesn’t help that they don’t flee from humans: They typically look down at them from the trees. Bouvier's red colobus may have been spotted within the last decade, but there’s been no confirmed sighting since the 1970s.
Guided by locals, independent researchers Lieven Devreese and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo set out into the swamp forests of Ntokou-Pikounda National Park during February of this year in hopes of establishing the distribution of the rare, elusive monkey. Home to gorillas, chimps, and elephants, this 4,572-square-kilometer (1,765 square miles) park became a protected area in 2013 on advice from the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.
The team ended up finding a whole group of Bouvier's red colobus in the trees along the Bokiba River in the park. "Our photos are the world's first and confirm that the species is not extinct," Devreese says in a news release. Pictured above, you can see a close-up of a mother and her infant.
"Thankfully, many of these colobus monkeys live in the recently gazetted national park and are protected from threats such as logging, agriculture, and roads, all of which can lead to increased hunting,” Fiona Maisels of WCS says in a statement.
The duo detailed their expedition on their Indiegogo page.