Objectives of the research project

Objectives Mbona trees

Here is a summary of the objectives of the project, followed by more detailed lists of primary and secondary objectives.

Summary of the aims of the research project

Determine the population size, location, genetics, and diet of samango monkeys in the Midlands, KZN.

Determine the manner in which human intervention has impacted on these areas.

Observe Samango monkey behaviour, troop structure and their behavioural relationship to other primate species.

Feed into other Samango Research projects in South Africa in order to get a broader perspective.

Educate the public on how to co-exist harmoniously with wild primates/all wildlife as well as the importance of a healthy biodiversity; our relationship to all wildlife and the environment on which we all depend.

Primary objectives

  • The primary objective is to identify and compare the genetic structure of three distinct samango monkey populations in three separate locations and to ascertain the levels of gene flow between units.
  • A focus is on collecting DNA faecal samples to gain insight into how the genes, diet and group size of samango monkey populations have been affected by habitat fragmentation.
  • The purpose of the research findings is to aid in determining what management and protection may be needed to further safeguard the samango monkey and the forests in which this species resides.

Objectives Samangos foraging forest floor

Secondary objectives

1) Study the relationship between samango monkeys and the resident vervet monkey troops.

In one study area, single dispersing male samangos appear to be forming symbiotic relationships with vervet monkey troops. The hypotheses that this association allows such individuals protection from predators and makes it possible to disperse from one forest patch to another requires further study.

In the same study group, samango troops made up of females and their young with one (or two) adult males, are often observed foraging in close proximity to a vervet troop (multi male-multi female). The hypothesis that samango groups are offered more protection against predators due to the presence of more adult males also requires further study.

Such relationships with vervets allows the samangos to forage on the ground further away from the edge of indigenous forest – behaviour that is commonly thought to be uncharacteristic of this species. This activity may allow for seed dispersal to occur some way away from the forest edge, which could possibly allow for the expansion of forest patches. Primate species play an important ecological role as seed dispersers. 

2) Assess the impact of human intervention on dispersing samango males

This assessment will include surveys conducted with residents in the area to gain data on the extent that human activity impacts on bachelor samango males. Home ranges of primate species often overlap with areas of high human density as is the case for this project’s three protected study sites. When primate home ranges overlap with areas of high human density, the monkeys are at high risk of being killed by dogs, electrocuted on pylons, run over by vehicles, trapped for traditional medicine, shot, poisoned, and exposed to unnatural food sources resulting from human activity. Bachelor samango males dispersing from forest patches are particularly vulnerable to such human-induced influences when dispersing without the protection and guidance that a group provides. As a result, bachelor dispersing males may increasingly seek out vervet troops to join up with. 

3) To investigate reports that baboons are predating on samango monkeys at Fort Nottingham, and if such behaviour is identified then to examine possible reasons for this behaviour.          

In this investigation, surveys with residents, trail cameras and tabulating behaviour identified through focal sampling and regular scan sampling will be used. If baboons are predating on samangos at Fort Nottingham, a possible motive may be limited resources and the need to compete for food;  for example, samangos may be pressurised to forage on the ground  (where baboon food sources exist) due to limited forest resources, hence their inability to get away from baboons as they would do in the forest.

Objectives Samangos in garden

4) Broader objectives

  • Feed into other samango research projects in South Africa in order to contribute to a broader perspective.
  • Educate the public on:
    • how to co-exist harmoniously with wild primates/all wildlife;
    • biodiversity;
    • our relationship with all wildlife and the environment on which we all depend.
  • Rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned samango monkeys.

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