About samango monkeys in the KZN Midlands

Status and facts

The scientific name for samango monkeys used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is Cercopithecus mitis (synonym Cercopithecus albogularis). Common names in English include Samango, Blue Monkey, Diademed Monkey, Golden Monkey and Sykes’ Monkey.

There are 17 subspecies of Cercopithecus mitis in Africa, with some subspecies being endemic to specific regions. Countries in which Cercopithecus mitis occur include: Angola; Burundi; Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo; Ethiopia; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Rwanda; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe.

IUCN identifies two subspecies that occur in South Africa

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists two subspecies that occur in South Africa, one being Cercopithecus mitis labiatus, which is endemic to South Africa. In addition to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands it is found in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo Province and in Mpumalanga. The second subspecies occurring in South Africa is Cercopithecus mitis erythrarchus, which “ranges from the Mlanje Plateau in southern Malawi, to Zimbabwe, much of Mozambique (although the coastal limits are uncertain) to Limpopo Province and northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in the south”. This second subspecies, Cercopithecus mitis erythrarchus, can be seen in the coastal forests in northern Zululand. (See  http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/4221/0 ).

The alternative name, Cercopithecus albogularis, is also used. For a detailed description of the taxonomy and speciation of samango monkeys in South Africa see this article by Dalton DL, Linden B, Wimberger K, Nupen LJ, Tordiffe ASW, Taylor PJ, et al. (2015), titled ‘New Insights into Samango Monkey Speciation in South Africa’, PLoS ONE 10(3). Find it at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0117003


Two samango monkeys visiting a garden on the fringes of a patch of indigenous forest in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

Status of Cercopithecus mitis – IUCN:

Cercopithecus mitis is internationally listed by the IUCN as “Least Concern” (not threatened) because it is widespread – from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo eastwards to the Indian Ocean coastline and Zanzibar Island (Tanzania). In the eastern part of its range, it is found from Ethiopia in the north to eastern South Africa in the south, common and present in numerous protected areas.

The subspecies C. m. erythrarchus is internationally listed as “Least Concern”.

Status of the subspecies (C. m. labiatus ) found in the KZN Midlands

Regarding the subspecies C. m. labiatus, which is the subject of this research project, the IUCN notes that “it is found in discrete forest areas with no dispersal between subpopulations”. Because of “a past decline exceeding 30% over the past 27 years, mainly as suitable habitat has been lost throughout the subspecies’ highly fragmented range due to past logging practices, and current forestry plantations”, the IUCN lists this subspecies of samango monkey as being ‘vulnerable’ (see http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41245/0) The current population trend is identified as decreasing.

The regional Red List (2016) lists C.a labiatus as Vulnerable and recognises three subspecies of samango monkey. C.a erythrarcus is listed as Near Threatened and C.a schwarzi is listed as Endangered.

The Red Data Book of the Mammals of South Africa: A Conservation Assessment (2004) listed the subspecies C. m. labiatus as Endangered.  


Samango Monkey Facts

For more information on Samango monkeys in Southern Africa see:

Linden B, Wimberger K, Ehlers-Smith Y, Child MF. 2016. A conservation assessment of Cercopithecus albogularis. In: Child MF, Roxburgh L, Do Linh San E, Raimondo D, Davies-Mostert HT, editors. The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa https://www.ewt.org.za/Reddata/pdf/Primates(4)/2016%20Mammal%20Red%20List_Cercopithecus%20albogularis_VU.pdf

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