Types of monkey -

Penant's Red Colobus Monkey

Procolobus pennantii pennantii
Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea

penants red colobus monkey

"The Pennant's Red Colobus are just located in the south-western corner of Bioko Island, Pennant's red colobus has lost almost fifty percent of its entire population to unrestrained bushmeat hunting over the past twenty years".

The endangered Pennant's red colobus monkey Procolobus pennantii is considered by the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group as included of four subspecies; however, their connextions within P. pennantii, and with further taxa of red colobus, require explanations (Groves 2001; Grubb et al. 2003). Forthcoming studies might recommend that these four "subspecies" should be referred to as full species. P. pennantii takes its name from the form restricted to Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, P. pennantii pennantii. This threatened subspecies possibly has the most limited variety from all of Bioko's 11 primates, and just exists in tiny areas of the southwest of the island, inside the Gran Caldera and Southern Highlands Scientific Reserve (51,000 ha).

P. p. pennantii is endangered by bushmeat hunting, has been noticed the most since the early 1980's after a commercial bushmeat market emerged in the town of Malabo (Butynski and Koster 1994). According to Hearn et al. (2006), approximately 550 were individually killed for bushmeat in 2004 and 2005, and a decrease of more than 40% in the population over a 20 year period from 1986 to 2006. In 2006, the typical cost in the Malabo market for an adult P. pennantii was about US$42. This is over twice as much as the cost of the easily obtainable, good quality, whole chicken and beef at the same market. Comparable prices are given on Bioko for all seven species of monkeys and for both species of duikers. Bushmeat on Bioko is, clearly, a 'luxury food' at present (Hearn et al. 2006).

Possibly all of the P. pennantii killed on Bioko at present are arriving from inside the Gran Caldera and Southern Highlands Scientific Reserve, although tiny numbers may live on the most isolated and rocky parts of Bioko's other safeguarded area, the Pico Basile National Park (330 km²). The continuous extraordinary movement of primates, duikers and other wildlife into the Malabo bushmeat market implies that neither 'safeguarded area' is getting adequate defence from the government of Equatorial Guinea.

The other three subspecies are: the critically endangered Bouvier's red colobus P. p. bouvieri of east-central Republic of Congo; the endangered Niger Delta red colobus P. p. epieni Grubb and Powell, 1999, of Nigeria; and the endangered Preuss's red colobus P. p. preussi of southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon (Struhsaker 2005). P. p. pennantii and P. p. preussi are especially different in relation to their vocalizations, while the vocal repertoire of P. p. epieni most closely bears a resemblance those of the red colobus in central and eastern Africa (T. T. Struhsaker unpublished data).

The severely threatened Miss Waldron's red colobus P. badius waldroni (Hayman, 1936) of southwestern Ghana and southeastern Côte d'Ivoir, appears to the northwest of the P.pennantii (Struhsaker 1999; Oates et al.2000; Groves 2001; Grubb et al. 2003). Nowadays all five of these subspecies are very close to dying out, with very limited varieties and tiny numbers because of rigorous hunting and widespread habitat loss and destruction (Oates et al. 2000; Struhsaker 2005; Hearn et al. 2006). Scientists have not seen living either P. p. bouvieri nor P. b. waldroni for a minimum of 25 years, increasing apprehensions that they might be wiped out (see profile for Miss Waldron's red colobus in this report).

The red colobus monkeys of West Africa and west Central Africa are possibly more endangered than any other taxonomic group of primates in Africa. This is mainly because of the reality that red colobus are particularly susceptible to habitat destruction and exposed to hunters ( Oates et al. 2000; Struhsaker 2005). None of the limited safeguarded regions in which any of these five subspecies of red colobus live is well protected. Two things are of extreme importance for the preservation of primate biodiversity in Africa: firstly, an instant survey needs to be undertaken to establish the existing divisions and wealth of these five subspecies of red colobus, and, secondly, carefully safeguard all of those populations that currently survive.

Giving appropriate safety to worthwhile populations of these five subspecies of red colobus would massively support the conservation of various threatened species. Amongst primates, these consist: the mainland Preuss's monkeyCercopithecus preussi preussi; Bioko Preuss's monkey C. p. insularis; Bioko red-eared monkey C. erythrotis erythrotis; golden-bellied crowned monkey C. pogonias pogonias; Roloway monkey C. diana roloway; Bioko greater white-nosed monkey C. nictitans martini; Bioko black colobus Colobus satanas satanas; white-naped mangabey Cercocebus atys lunulatus; mainland drill Mandrillus leucophaeus leucophaeus; Bioko drill M. l. poensis; western chimpanzee Pan troglodytes verus; and Nigeria chimpanzee P. t. vellerosus.

If a determined attempt is made to protect all of the variety that exists amongst the red colobus, then the main international conservation NGOs must concentrate their energies on the above group and work carefully with national conservation NGOs and national protected area authorities. Nevertheless, it is probably too late for P. p. bouvieri and P. b. waldroni.


  • Butynski, T. M. and S. H. Koster. 1994. Distribution and conservation status of primates in Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Biodiv. Conserv. 3: 893-909. .
  • Gautier-Hion, A., M. Colyn. and J.-P. Gautier. 1999. Histoire Naturelle des Primates d'Afrique Centrale. ECOFAC, Libreville. .
  • Hearn, G., W. A. Morra and T. M. Butynski. 2006. Monkeys in trouble: The rapidly deteriorating conservation status of the monkeys on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Report, Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program, Glenside, Pennsylvania..

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