Everything You Want To Know About Uganda’s Golden Monkey
Uganda is home to many natural wonders and an incredible diversity of plant and animal life. Not least among these is the Golden monkey
Confusion Alert: Not to be confused with the Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) which lives literally continents away in China. The Golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti) is native to Uganda and Central Africa and is a unique and vital part of Uganda’s ecosystem.
12 Golden Monkey Facts
If you are planning a trip to Uganda, find answers to all of your questions about this magnificent creature, and brush up on your knowledge of the country’s native wildlife by exploring these 12 Golden monkey facts.
1. What is an Old World Monkey?
The golden monkey is what is known as an “Old World Monkey.”
Old World Monkeys are a family of monkeys known as Cercopithecidae, which includes two subfamilies, Cercopithecenae and Colobinae. The golden monkey belongs to Cercopithecenae. Between these two subfamilies, there are over 132 species of Old World monkeys!
What separates Old World monkeys from New World monkeys? The Old World monkeys can be found in, of course, Uganda and other parts of Africa, but also South and East Asia, the Middle East, and even a tiny corner of Southern Spain. New World monkeys, on the other hand, live in Central and South America, as well as Mexico.
Old and New World monkeys are also separated by a surprising anatomical feature: their noses! Old World monkeys, including the Golden, have nostrils that point downwards, whereas New World monkeys have nostril that point to the sides.
2. Where does the Golden monkey get its name?
As you may be able to guess, the Golden monkey gets its name for its striking coloring. The tails of the Golden monkey are bright, vibrant, golden orange, as are its cheeks, and patches of its back and torso. This poses a sharp contrast to its jet-black legs and head for a visually stunning effect. BBC
3. Is the Golden monkey a distinct species?
While the Golden monkey is currently recognized as its own genetically unique species, you may be surprised to find out that it is only relatively recently that the Golden monkey has been recognized as such. It used to be considered a subspecies of the closely related, but distinct, Blue monkey
4. Where does the Golden monkey live?
The Golden monkey is an Albertine Rift Endemic. You are probably wondering what exactly that means!
The Albertine Rift is a geographic area of mountains and valley that is confined between the northern side of Lake Albert and the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. It includes a part of Uganda, but also portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania. “Endemic” is a term that refers to the population of a species that is confined to a certain area.
The Golden monkey, for instance, used to live in broader areas of Uganda and other African nations, but can now only be found in the Albertine Rift .The Albertine Rift is a place of magnificent beauty and unsurpassed biodiversity. Over half of all of Africa’s bird species call it home, along with just under half of its mammals and nearly a quarter of its plants and amphibians (along with quite a few humans). The Golden monkey is certainly in good company in this protected area.
5. How big is the Golden monkey population? Is it under threat?
Sadly, the Golden monkey belongs to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.
According to the IUCN, the Golden monkey has been an endangered species since 1996. The IUCN includes the Golden monkey on this list for a few reasons. The Golden monkey is estimated to have a population of only 2,500-3,500, and this population is dwindling. The Golden monkey’s habitat is now confined to an area about 5,000 square kilometers in the Albertine Rift.
Why is the Golden monkey population being threatened? The Golden monkey lives mostly in bamboo forests, and are subject to the constant threat of habitat loss and deforestation. The Golden monkey’s have few animal predators (with certain bird species being an occasional, but relatively inconsequential, exception) so the main threats to its life are humans who may set illegal traps and snares, or cut down the bamboo that Golden monkey’s lives depend on.