Where do colobus monkeys live?
Two types of black-and-white colobus monkeys are found in Kenya, those that inhabit coastal forests and those in inland, high-country areas. Red colobus monkeys are also found in East Africa but are quite rare. Two other types of colobus monkeys in Africa are the black and the olive. The colobus monkey lives in all types of closed forests, including montane and gallery forests. Bamboo stands are also popular dwelling spots for the colobus.
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What is the colobus monkey?
The name “colobus” is derived from the Greek word for “mutilated,” because unlike other monkeys, colobus monkeys do not have thumbs. Their beautiful black fur strongly contrasts with the long white mantle, whiskers, bushy tail, and beard around the face. The Eastern black-and-white is distinguishable by a U-shaped cape of white hair running from the shoulders to lower back, whereas the Angolan black-and-white has white hairs flaring out only at the shoulders.
Colobus monkeys are capable of eating toxic foliage.
Colobus monkeys are strictly leaf-eaters and spend most of their time in treetops, preferring to eat young leaves found there. However, their complex stomachs enable them to digest mature or toxic foliage that other monkeys cannot.
The colobus is the most arboreal of all African monkeys.
It rarely descends to the ground and uses branches as trampolines to get liftoffs for leaps of up to 50 feet. Colobus monkeys leap up and then drop downward, falling with outstretched arms and legs to grab the next branch. Their mantle hair and tails are believed to act as a parachute during these long leaps.
They live in territorial troops.
Colobus monkeys live in troops of about 5 to 10 animals—a dominant male, several females, and their young. Each troop has a well-defined territory, which is defended from other groups. Adult troop members, especially males, make croaking roars that can be heard resonating throughout the forest. Despite their territorial nature, fighting over mates rarely occurs.
Members of the troop care for the infants.
There is no distinct breeding season, although most mating probably occurs during the rainy season. A female will give birth once every 20 months, on average. The newborn colobus monkey has a pink face and is covered with white fur. At about 1 month, it begins to change color, gaining the black-and-white adult coloration at about 3 months. The infant monkey is carried on the mother's abdomen, where it clings to her fur. As it matures, it spends a lot of time playing with its mother and other adults. In the first month, it may be handled 3 to 5 times an hour in resting groups. However, infant mortality is high even though the young are carefully tended.