Samango Monkey – ToPS species – Diaries No.1

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 

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. 

Posted by Karin Saks



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