Piliocolobus badiuswestern red colobus

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Geographic Range

Western red colobus monkeys are found in western Africa. The subspecies P.b. badius, bay red colobus, is native to Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The subspecies P.b. waldroni, Miss Waldron's red colobus, is native to eastern Cote d’Ivoire and western Ghana. The subspecies, P.b. temminiki, Temminck's red colobus, is native to Senegal and is scattered through Guinea, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. (Oates, et al., 2008; Bshary and Noe, 1997a; Bshary and Noe, 1997b; Galat-Luong and Galat, 2005; Oates, et al., 2008; Richardson, 2005; Struhsaker, 2005)

Habitat

Western red colobus are found in old growth rain forests at all levels of the canopy, from the ground to stratum 5 of the tree canopy, which is the tops of developing trees greater than 40m above ground. Western red colobus monkeys spend most of their time in the third or fourth strata (20 to 30m). The subspeices P.b. Temmincki resides in mountain forests and tropical rain forests and are also adapted to the dry forests of Senegal. The subspecies P.b. waldroni inhabits dense, tall canopied forests. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b; Bshary and Noe, 1997a; Bshary and Noe, 1997b; Galat-Luong and Galat, 2005; Oates, et al., 2008; Richardson, 2005)

  • Range elevation
    0 (low) m
    0.00 (low) ft
  • Average elevation
    20-30 m
    ft

Physical Description

Western red colobus are sexually dimorphic, and adult females are slightly smaller than adult males. Males weigh between 9.1 kg and 12.2 kg, whereas females weigh between 6.8 kg and 9.1 kg. Western red colobus are 45 to 67 cm in length, and their tail is an additional 52 to 80cm long. Their body is brown, grey or black in color, and their head and appendages are chestnut or red in color. Their pubic area is surrounded by white fur. Their coat is even in length. Western red colobus do not have a thumb, but rather have a bump in their place. They also have long fingers for grasping branches. In addition, male and female juvenile western red colobus exhibit similar genital swellings as mature females, and juvenile males do not yet show evidence of a penis or scrotum. There are three subspecies of Pilliocolobus badius, P.b. badius, P.b. temmincki, and P.b. waldroni, and each are slightly different in physical appearance. P.b. badius exhibit black foreheads and outer thighs, and they also possess an exterior nose elevetaed on a well padded base. P.b. waldroni possess more red on their outer thighs and forehead than P.b. badius. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b; Kuhn, 1971; McGraw, 2005; Oates, et al., 2000; Richardson, 2005; Stanford, 1998)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    6.8 to 12.2 kg
    14.98 to 26.87 lb
  • Range length
    97 to 147 cm
    38.19 to 57.87 in

Reproduction

Female western red colobus monkeys choose which male(s) with which to mate, as they migrate from group to group. It is uncertain whether this species is monogamous or polyandrous. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b)

Female western red colobus monkeys give birth to a single offspring every two years. Females leave their natal group, moving freely between groups of males, which remain in their natal group. Males of different coalitions demonstrate aggression as they fight for the mobile females. When females are ready to mate, they develop eostrogen-dependent swollen genitals that resemble a pink rosebud. This is not a permanent change. It is uncertain whether female western red colobus monkeys mate with a single male or multiple males. Characteristic of the subspecies P.b. temminckii, a male and female withdraw from the group, and the female lies susceptible to the male for copulation. P.b. temmincki also show distinctive seasonal breeding. The gestation period of western red colobus monkeys is 6 to 6.5 months. Females of P.b. temmincki do not make any sounds during copulation, whereas females of P.b. badius females do vocalize while copulating. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b; Galat-Luong and Galat, 2005; Kuhn, 1971; Richardson, 2005; Stanford, 1998)

  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Range gestation period
    6 to 6.5 months

Little information is available regarding parental investment of western red colobus monkeys, as they do not survive long enough to breed in captivity and few studies have focused on this aspect in the wild. General observations suggest no parental involvement occurs after birth. Mothers, however, defend, nurse and groom their offspring. (Kuhn, 1971; Struhsaker and Pope, 1991)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Western red colobus monkeys have about a 30% mortality rate in their first 6 months. Between 6 and 12 months of age, they have a mortality rate of 18%. Due to chimpanzee predation, mortality rates are 28% between 18 and 24 months of age. Because females migrate between groups and males do not, females have a higher mortality rate than males. The lifespan of western red colobus is currently unknown. (Stanford, 1998)

Behavior

Western red colobus monkeys are diurnal primates that inhabit trees. They primarily live in the higher canopy (26 to 40m high) and only rarely descend to the forest’s floor. They do, however, descend to the forest floor when they associate with Diana monkeys, Cercopithecus diana. Western red colobus use their tail and phalanges to swing and balance themselves in the trees. They live in social groups of more than 20 individuals, composed of both young and old males and females. Females move from group to group, whereas males remain in their natal group or leave to form a group of their own. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b; Bshary and Noe, 1997b; Galat-Luong and Galat, 2005; Hopkins, 1964)

  • Range territory size
    0.089 to 1 km^2

Home Range

Groups of western red colobus monkeys are very territorial. Groups of the subspecies P.b. temmincki have a territory of 0.089 to 0.22 sq km, whereas groups of P.b. badius have a terriory of over 1 sq km. P.b. temmincki also have loosely structured groups that often combine and split up. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b)

Communication and Perception

Western red colobus monkeys use vocalizations to communicate. When predators, such as chimpanzees and leopards, are near, western red colobus call out. Immediately on detecting a chimpanzee, they call out in alarm but stop shortly thereafter. They then climb higher in the trees, up to strata 4 and 5, or higher than 26 m. When a leopard is spotted, western red colobus give an alarm call and several males then approach the leopard and drive it away. Juveniles exhibit a pink gential swelling much like the swelling of the adult females. This mimicry helps juveniles avoid confrontation with older, larger males of the group. (Bshary and Noe, 1997a; Bshary and Noe, 1997b; Kuhn, 1971; Richardson, 2005; Stanford, 1998)

Food Habits

Western red colobus monkeys are folivorous, consuming mostly young leaves but also mature leaves, seeds, unripe fruit and shoots. Members of the subspecies P.b. temmincki consume leaves of Terminalia macroptera, Celtis integrifolia, Erythrophleum guineense, Pterocarpus erinaceus and Dichrostachys glomerata as well as fruits and flowers at the end of the dry season when leaves have become hard. Western red colobus possess a unique digestive system in which a ruminant-like multi-chambered stomach digests cellulose. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Galat-Luong and Galat, 2005; Hayes, et al., 1996; Hopkins, 1964; Maisels, et al., 1994; Ting, 2008)

  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers

Predation

When predators, such as chimpanzees and leopards, are near, western red colobus call out. Immediately on detecting a chimpanzee, they call out in alarm but stop shortly thereafter. The group then climbs higher in the trees, up to strata 4 and 5, or higher than 26 m. When a leopard is spotted, western red colobus give an alarm call and several males then approach the leopard and drive it away. Western red colobus monkeys are also hunted by humans for their bushmeat and fur. The subspecies P.b. waldroni has been driven to or very near extinction by poachers because of their fur and meat. If P.b. waldroni is truly extinct, it would be the first recorded 20th century primate taxon to die off. There is, however, evidence of their continued existence, though this is limited to the forest between the Ehy Lagoon and Tanoe River of western Ghana. (Bshary and Noe, 1997a; Bshary and Noe, 1997b; McGraw, 2005; Oates, et al., 2000)

Ecosystem Roles

Western red colobus monkeys are prey to chimpanzees and leopards. They may also act as seed dispersers during the dry season when they eat a higher proportion of fruits. (Bshary and Noe, 1997a)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Western red colobus monkeys are an important part of the bushmeat trade. It is difficult to enforce laws in national parks, where poachers hunt with little interference. The subspecies P.b. waldroni has been driven to or very near extinction due to poaching and the bushmeat trade. Western red colobus monkeys are also hunted for their coat, as they possess long fur with an appealing coloration. (Oates, et al., 2000; Richardson, 2005)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Piliocolobus badius on humans.

Conservation Status

Western red colobus monkeys are considered endangered by the IUCN. The subspecies P.b. waldroni is critically endangered and possibly extinct. Low population size is due to hunting for bushmeat and fur as well as habitat destruction from logging. (Beacham and Beetz, 1998a; Beacham and Beetz, 1998b)

Other Comments

As with some other species of primates, the posterior end of male western red colobus monkeys changes with age. Juvenile males display a swelling of the perineal organ to mimic that of a mature female during heat, though they are morphologically different. As fetuses and juveniles, western red colobus have a perineal organ that is bright pinkish-red, with a bright blue fake clitoris and some spots around the origin of the tail and anus. This vibrant coloration remains until maturity. The coloration of males changes drastically as they mature: the bright pinkish-red portion of the perineal organ turns a greyish-yellowish-red, and the bright blue darkens to a blueish-black. The perineal organ of males is covered with scaly keratinized skin that is stratified. Because juveniles look like adult females, they are protected against older, stronger males of the group. (Kuhn, 1971; Richardson, 2005)

Contributors

Kathleen Vasselin (author), University of Alberta, Augustana Campus, Doris Audet (editor), University of Alberta, Augustana Campus, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

choruses

to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

mimicry

imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Beacham, W., K. Beetz. 1998. Miss Waldron's Bay Red Colobus. Pp. 130-131 in W Beacham, K Beetz, eds. Beacham's Guide to International Endangered Species, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. Osprey (FL): Beacham Publishing Corp..

Beacham, W., K. Beetz. 1998. Temminck's Red Colobus. Pp. 127-129 in W Beacham, K Beetz, eds. Beacham's Guide to International Endangered Species, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. Osprey (FL): Beacham Publishing Corp..

Bshary, R., R. Noe. 1997. Anti-predation behaviour of red colobus monkeys in the presence of chimpanzees. Behavioral ecology and sociobiology, 41/5: 321-333.

Bshary, R., R. Noe. 1997. Red colobus and Diana monkeys provide mutual protection against predators. Animal behaviour, 54/6: 1461-1474.

Galat-Luong, A., G. Galat. 2005. Conservation and Survival Adaptations of Temminck's Red Colobus (Pocolobus badius temmicki) in Senegal. International journal of primatology, 26/3: 585-603.

Hayes, V., L. Freedman, C. Oxnard. 1996. Dental Sexual Dimorphism and Morphology in African Colobus Monkeys as Related to Diet. International Journal of Primatology, 17/5: 725-757.

Hopkins, J. 1964. Mammals of the World. Baltimore (MA): The Johns Hopkins Press.

Kuhn, H. 1971. On the Perineal Organ of Male Procolobus badius. Journal of Human Evolution, 1/1: 371-378.

Maisels, F., A. Gautier-Hion, J. Gautier. 1994. Diets of two sympatric colobines in Zaire: more evidence on seed-eating in forests on poor soils. International journal of primatology, 15/5: 681-701.

McGraw, S. 2005. Update on the Search for Miss Waldron's Red Colobus Monkey. International Journal of Primatology, 26/3: 605-619.

Oates, J., T. Struhsaker, S. McGraw, A. Galat-Luong, G. Galat, T. Ting. 2008. "Procolobus badius" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed September 14, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/18240/0.

Oates, J., M. Abedi-Lartey, S. McGraw, T. Struhsaker, G. Whitesides. 2000. Extinction of a West African Red Colobus Monkey. Conservation Biology, 14/5: 1526-1532.

Richardson, M. 2005. "Red colobus (Piliocolobus badius)" (On-line). ARKive. Accessed September 14, 2009 at http://www.arkive.org/red-colobus/piliocolobus-badius/.

Stanford, C. 1998. Chimpanzee and Red Colobus: Ecology of Predator and Prey. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.

Struhsaker, T., T. Pope. 1991. Mating system and reproductive success: a comparison Mating system and reproductive success: a comparison of two african forest monkeys (colobus badius and cercopithecus ascanius of two african forest monkeys (colobus badius and cercopithecus ascanius. Behaviour, 117/3-4: 182-205.

Struhsaker, T. 2005. Conservation of Red Colobus and Their Habitats. International Journal of Primatology, 26/3: 525-538.

Ting, N. 2008. Mitochondrial Relationships and Divergence Dates of the African Colobines: Evidence of Miocene Origins for the Living Colobus Monkeys. Journal of Human Evolution, 55/1: 312-325.