Cercocebus chrysogastergolden-bellied mangabey

Geographic Range

The neotropical golden-bellied mangabey, Cercocebus chrysogaster, is native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Individuals of this species are concentrated in the central Congo Basin. The landmark estimated borders surrounding the majority of the species are the Congo River at the westernmost limit, the Lulonga River at the northernmost limit, and the Lomami River at the easternmost limit. (Hart, et al., 2008; McGraw and Fleagle, 2006)


Golden-bellied mangabeys are commonly found in tropical rainforests. Their habitats range from lowlands (at or below sea level) that flood from November to March, to upland rainforests. They thrive in wetlands and at elevations up to 500 meters. (Hart, et al., 2008; Kingdon, 2015)

  • Range elevation
    500 (high) m
    1640.42 (high) ft

Physical Description

Golden-bellied mangabeys are easily distinguished from related species by an orange fur coloring on their anterior side. Their posterior sides are commonly brown, black, white, or gray, or a combination of those colors of fur. They have long tails that can range from 45-100 centimeters in length, depending on the stage of maturity. Adults can range from 40-80 centimeters in height. Adult females typically weigh between 4 and 8 kilograms and males are larger, averaging 6 to 14 kilograms.

The birth weight ranges from 500 to 600 grams for most golden-bellied mangabeys. As babies, they resemble their parents, and are found to have surprising strength from birth to be able to grip onto the back of their mothers for safety. (Goodenberger, et al., 2015; Kingdon, 2015; Veovodin and Marx Jr, 2009)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    4 to 14 kg
    8.81 to 30.84 lb
  • Range length
    40 to 80 cm
    15.75 to 31.50 in
  • Average length
    65 cm
    25.59 in


When a female is ovulating or prepared to breed, sexually-mature males are aware by a swelling of her buttocks. Because golden-bellied mangabeys travel in packs, her mate is usually a member of her group. Males often battle for power within a group, and the number of offspring he has produced is a sign of power. This leads to a challenge of social structure when a female becomes ready to breed and a male fights for a chance to take the opportunity. They are polygynandrous, meaning males and females both have multiple mates throughout their lifetimes. (Nowak, 1999; Walker, et al., 2004)

Golden-bellied mangabeys typically only breed once per year. The primary reproductive season is from March to August. The gestation period lasts an average of 170 days (range 160 to 180). They give birth to one 500 to 600g offspring at a time. The young are weaned in 8 to 9 months (range 7 to 10), and are not fully independent until they are 4 to 5 years old (range 2 to 6). Females reach sexual maturity around 4 to 5 years of age, while males don't mature until 5 to 7 years of age. (Mitchell, et al., 2005; Nowak, 1999; Walker, et al., 2004)

  • Breeding interval
    Golden-bellied mangabeys usually breed once yearly
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season is from March to August.
  • Range number of offspring
    2 (high)
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    160 to 180 days
  • Range weaning age
    7 to 10 months
  • Range time to independence
    2 to 6 years
  • Average time to independence
    4-5 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4 to 5 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    5 to 7 years

For this particular species, there is little research done on parental investment. For similar species, Cercocebus galeritus, the Tana River mangabey, and Cercocebus torquatus, the collared mangabey, infants stay attached or very close to the mother until they reach seven to ten months of age and begin weaning. Golden-bellied mangabeys travel in groups where all adults protect all young, but at this time it is unknown if the male and female parents both stay in the same pack as their young directly after birth and after weaning. Infants are articial, which means that they need the supervision and care of a parent or member of the group to survive. Some adults in the groups, particularly those who have given birth, have been observed to display a heightened sense of aggression toward perceived threats when there are youth present. (Mitchell, et al., 2005; Nowak, 1999; Walker, et al., 2004)


In captivity, golden-bellied mangabeys have been observed to live for an average of 30 years, within a range of 20 to 35 years. There is little known about the lifespan of golden-bellied mangabeys in the wild. It is assumed that longevity is similar to that of other members of the genus. The collared mangabey, Cercocebus torquatus, lives an average of 25 to 27 years in the wild. (Inogwabini and Thompson, 2013; Nowak, 1999)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    35 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    Not recorded years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    20 to 35 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    30 years


The golden-bellied mangabeys are a nomadic, social species. They travel in groups ranging from 8 to 30 members. They move to forage for food in trees, and also forage on the ground. Groups may roam over an area of up to 1000 square meters per day in any direction. They are crepuscular and tend to be more active before sunrise, when it is easiest to find food undisturbed by other species.

There is usually one dominant male per group, but the males in general are the protectors and main gatherers. Males are more likely to emit warning and alarm sounds, but females also have the ability to do so if necessary. Separate groups try to avoid each other, and use the signals of alarm to warn their group to move away.

There are specific differences between males and females in regards to how they perceive danger, and what makes them more aware of it. Females are more aggressive and more likely to respond to danger if there is a juvenile present. Males are protective of the group all the time, and are less affected by the presence of a youth. (Inogwabini and Thompson, 2013; Kingdon, 2015; Mitchell, et al., 1987; Nowak, 1999)

Home Range

A home range for golden-bellied mangabeys is not known at this time, but the home range of one similar species, Cercocebus agilis, the agile mangabey, was found to be 198 ha while another, the Tana River mangabey, was observed to have a home range up to 15 ha. (Mitchell, et al., 2005; Nowak, 1999)

Communication and Perception

Golden-bellied mangabeys communicate primarily through sounds. They have specialized sacs in their throats that allow their calls to be heard up to a kilometer away. Males are much louder than females, but both depend on acoustic communication. They use calls for location detection, alerts, and danger warnings. Alerts are the way they communicate non-emergency messages, while danger calls warn of a predator or another threatening situation. The sounds they make range from a high-pitched shriek to a low grunt or bark.

Other perception channels include chemical, in which they use a strong sense of smell to seek out things that do not belong, and visual, which allows them to see through the dense trees where they reside to spot other members of their group along with predators. It is not known at this time if they are able to see colors, and if that hinders or helps their ability to identify group members by coat color. They use tactile sensations to feel and grab their way through dense trees, and to collect food. (Mitchell, et al., 1987; Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Golden-bellied mangabeys are insectivores, frugivores, granivores, and nectarivores. Because they live primarily in trees, they eat foods that are easily accessible. These foods contain non-vertebrate animals such as insects and spiders, fruits, leaves, nuts, and seeds. They also feed on nectar at times. They have strong jaws and teeth that make it possible to consume nuts with shells and tough fruits. Pouches in their cheeks allow them to store food and transport it easily to other members of their group or to eat later. They typically search for food before the sun rises and eat the majority of their daily food intake in the morning. Their diet depends primarily on seasonal availability of suitable food items. (Kingdon, 2015; Mitchell, et al., 1987; Walker, et al., 2004)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • nectar


At this current time, the biggest threat to the golden-bellied mangabeys is Homo sapiens, humans. The species become an easy target because 15 or more from a group can be found foraging together for food around human settlements. Their loud warning calls and alerts to other group members are the only defense they have against predation. They may also be preyed on by large snakes, birds of prey, and felid species. (Hart, et al., 2008; Inogwabini and Thompson, 2013)

Ecosystem Roles

Golden-bellied mangabeys do not play a large role in ecosystem function. They are known to spend most of their time in the trees, and they seldom interact with other species. The only recorded parasite is a roundworm, Oesophagostomum brumpti, which can cause death. (Kennard, 1941)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • roundworms (Oesophagostomum brumpti)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans use the golden-bellied mangabey both for pet trade and for the use of meat and other body parts. There is little known about the specific trade of the golden-bellied mangabey, but general primate sales in bushmeat markets in the Congo is recorded at 17%. (Davies and Robinson, 2007; Hart, et al., 2008)

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

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of golden-bellied mangabeys on humans.

Conservation Status

The golden-bellied mangabey is listed as "data deficient" on the IUCN Red List, but it is noted that the population size is in decline. The main cause of this decline is hunting. This species is listed on the CITES Appendix II, which means that they may not be endangered now, but will be if primate trade persists. Trade of Appendix II animals is regulated by permits for imports and exports in certain areas. At this time, there are no precautions being taken to slow this decline. (Hart, et al., 2008)


Haley Patterson (author), Radford University, Cari Mcgregor (editor), Radford University, Zeb Pike (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, April Tingle (editor), Radford University, Jacob Vaught (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


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.


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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk


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


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


an animal that mainly eats fruit


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


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.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


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


uses sight to communicate


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


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