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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Samango Monkey – ToPS species – Diaries no. 1

When we reach the end and are comprised of nothing more than dusty primate bones, all we will leave are the memories we plant now.

What is it about primates that moves you most, an old man asked.

It isn’t primates alone I told him. Each new species encountered, with its specific behaviour, and individual flavour ensures that the experience will be - at the very least – akin to the thrill of entering a new country with a distinctly unusual cultural social structure.

Primates however, due to their special relationship with humans, have additional lessons to offer.

Armed with the above philosophy, I headed towards the first Samango Monkey site on the 26th March on a wet, cloudy day.
Soon after I’d begun walking down the muddy forest path, I heard crashing through the canopy. Familiar with the movement of monkeys, I stopped to listen, but all went frustratingly silent. Walking on, I hoped they would reveal themselves further.

"Pyow – pyow"; a hidden samango monkey called in the distance identifying the species of monkey I’d been lucky to find. Having worked with vervet monkeys and baboons in the Tstitsikamma for two decades, the elusive and threatened samango represents a thrilling opportunity to build on all I’ve learnt from the past. More importantly, further observation of this species is needed to fully understand the genetics, distribution and behavioural ecology and how this impacts on the forests they are dependent on for survival.

Although I didn’t have a telephoto lens to capture some close ups, I tried to capture some of the movement and sounds around me while the samangos moved along their foraging path, ignoring my presence. It felt strange to be with monkeys who were not fearful of having a camera pointing at them, suggesting that unlike the vervet troops I had encountered in the past, this troop thankfully knew nothing about guns.

Follow us to keep updated on our samango monkey research which we are conducting on three separate sites where this elusive species resides. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Maps and our Study Sites

Samangos - taken with a camera trap at Site 1 - Karkloof

Karkloof Site 2
Karkloof Site 2

Karkloof Site1

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Samango Monkeys - Two Videos From Other Areas

"Of the few species of primate in South Africa, samango monkeys are the least known. This is because samangos are limited to the canopies of mist-belt forests and these are threatened and more and more fragmented. Two researchers have recently joined forces to have a look at samangos -- one from the Soutpansberg population, the other from the Hogsback population. Their study will reveal information about the behaviour, ecology and conservation of the monkeys and may help to reveal differences between the Soutpansberg and Hogsback individuals. We speak to them about issues of genetic flow and the resultant separation of a species into subspecies. These monkeys could be more threatened than we realised."