Nyungwe is home to a wide variety of primates — The L’Hoest’s Albertine Rift Monkey, the Sun-tailed Gabon Monkey and the Preuss’ Cameroon Monkey, among others. All of the primates in this region are considered Old World Species. This means that these three monkeys were most likely a single species that once lived in a larger forest area before the last Ice Age. Over time, the forest split into smaller areas with each monkey adapting to its smaller habitat and becoming separate species. Many of the species listed below are endemic species, only found in the Nyungwe National Park region.
Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes
This is the only ape in Nyungwe, with an estimated 500 living in the park. This species of chimpanzee is all black with prominent ears. Both the males and the females have white beards. The average lifespan of this species is 40-45 years. Chimpanzees are very intelligent and usually have mental maps of their surroundings. They typically eat fruit but will also eat some smaller mammals, honey, seeds and resin. Your guide can help you spot them through their calls, nests, and droppings.
L’Hoest’s Mountain Monkey, Cercopithecus lhoesti
Nyungwe is one of the few places in the world where this species is still common. Known for their dark black bodies and fuzzy, white beards, this species is a smaller mountain monkey. L’Hoest Mountain Monkeys are a quadrupedal species, meaning they walk on all four legs. They live in small female dominated groups that forage the forest floor for seeds, fruit and invertebrates. You can often see them by the main road near Uwinka.
Owl-Faced Monkey, Cercopithecus hamlyni
Closely related to the L’Hoest’s Mountain Monkey, this elusive monkey is rarely seen. Little is known about their habits but we know they live in small groups of one male and multiple females. The Owl-Faced Monkey is dark grey and is characterized by a white stripe that extends from the top of the lip to the top of the nose. It has a range limited to central Congo, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
Angolan Colobus Monkeys, Colobus angolensis ruwenzori
This large black monkey has white ornamentation, a white tail tuft and a white beard. Colobus Monkeys are herbivores with very sloppy eating habits. These sloppy eating habits are very important for seed dispersal in rain forests. Nyungwe is the only forest in Africa where these monkeys form large “supergroups” of over 350 individuals.
Mona Monkey, Cercopithecus mona
This unique looking monkey has a long black tail, white rump and a brown back. They have exceptionally furry faces and carry their food in large cheek pouches. They eat primarily fruit but will occasionally eat leaves and insects. Although often found in groups with other Monas, individuals can sometimes be seen associating with groups of colobus, blue monkeys, or mangabeys.
Blue Monkey, Cercopithecus mitis doggetti
Despite their name, Blue Monkeys are not actually blue. Their light grey and olive fur gives off a blueish hue when they are perched high in the trees. Exclusively found in tree tops, these monkeys live in dense forest canopies for food and shelter and rarely come down to the forest floor. They live in female centric groups of 10 to 40 with only one male. They exhibit allomothering, where all the females raise each other’s infants. These tree-dwelling monkeys can be found around Uwinka.
All information was found on fact sheets provided by the Primate Information Network. For more information on the species listed above or many other primate species around the world, please visit their website.