Biodiversity

Red Colombus Monkey

The Zanzibar Red Colobus (Piliocolobus kirkii) is a species of Red Colobus monkey endemic to Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago.  The Zanzibar Red Colobus is endangered and there are about 1.500 monkeys left. This monkey has a coat that ranges from dark red to black, accented with a black stripe along the shoulders and arms, and a pale underside. Its black face is crowned with long white hair. You can see a pink mark on its lips and nose. The Zanzibar Red Colobus has a long tail used for balancing. Females have little difference in their body size and colour from their male counterparts. They are specialized leaf-eaters. Leaves are very nutritious but most animals cannot digest their cellulose cell walls. But these monkeys have solved the problem - in the same way as many hoofed animals by evolving a four-chambered stomach where bacterial fermentation breaks down the cellulose and releases the nutrients. They also consume charcoil, which is believed to aid their digestion of the toxins in the leaves.  Red Colobus eat more than 60 different plant species, always the most tender and nutritious parts of trees. Perhaps because of their peculiar digestive system, they rest for long periods and spend only about 3 hours per day feeding. Usually they eat in the morning and evening. The groups consist of up to four adult males and many adult females. Young of different ages are also incorporated in the group. The number of monkeys can range from 30 to 50. They are very social and can often be observed playing during the rest periods between mails. Feeding is also a group activity. It begins in the morning and is more active during the cooler parts of the day. Loud calls from the males indicate the group is ready to move to another tree. The Zanzibar Red Colobus prefers drier areas than wet ones, but can also be found in agricultural areas and in mangrove swamps.  In agricultural areas they are more used to humans and come closer to the ground.