An African monkey thought to be extinct has been spotted again by researchers, who returned from a remote Congo forest in March with the first-ever photos of the rare red primate.
Until this year, scientists hadn’t seen the Bouvier’s red colobus monkey in the wild since the 1970s. The small primate lives in groups in swampy forests along the Congo River, in the Republic of the Congo. Hunting and logging decimated its population, leading some scientists to suggest the monkey was extinct.
Now, independent explorers have rediscovered the rare monkey. The researchers, Lieven Devreese of Belgium and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo of the Republic of the Congo, set off in February to track down the elusive species. Their expedition was supported by donations collected through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, and funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“Our photos are the world’s first [of the monkey], and confirm that the species is not extinct,” Devreese said in a statement.
There are several species of red colobus monkey. Until now, scientists only knew of the Bouvier’s red species from a few museum specimens collected more than 100 years ago.
This particular colobus monkey shows little fear of humans — one reason it is so vulnerable to bushmeat hunters. Instead of fleeing hunters or curious scientists, the monkeys gaze at them from the trees. This makes the large groups easy pickings for the bushmeat trade, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
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SOURCE: Discovery News, LiveScience, Becky Oskin