De Brazza’s monkey, a spectacular thickset guenon, has a relatively short tail, a hairy face with a reddish-brown patch around its eyes, a white band across its brow and a distinctive white moustache and beard.
Primarily a west African species, this monkey is very localized in east Africa, most likely to be seen near Mount Elgon and Semliki national parks.
Adult De Brazza’s monkeys have grey agouti fur, a reddish-brown back, black limbs and tail, and a white rump. Males have a distinct blue scrotum, females have visible nipples, and the area around the ass is red.
They have cheek pouches they use to carry food while they forage. Juveniles lack the darker colours on the extremities like the adults but have white stripes and red rump. Infants have a uniform brown agouti with only a tiny beard.
The white muzzle and beard, an orange crescent on its forehead, and white stripes on its thighs distinguish it from other guenons.
The De Brazza’s monkey can live up to 22 years in the wild and 30 years in captivity. It lives in troops ranging from 2-10 individuals on average.
In Uganda, the DeBrazza’s monkey lives in single male, multi-female troops. Solitary males don’t usually create bachelor groups but occasionally depose an alpha male to gain access to the females.
Male De Brazza’s monkeys communicate with booming sounds usually heard early in the morning when the male calls out to establish his territory. He will also use the same call to bring the group back together if they get separated.
When attacked by predators, males give an alarm call, and females also give alarm calls and growl at humans. Otherwise, female vocalizations are usually quiet croaks when feeding or resting. Young ones will give distressed shrill squeals when separated from their mothers or the group.
Given the cryptic nature of De Brazza’s monkeys, listening out for their calls is sometimes the only way to locate them.
De Brazza’s monkey diet consists primarily of herbaceous plants on the forest floor and fruits when available. When primary foods are scarce, they supplement their diet with insects, seeds, and other food sources.
The monkey’s common predators include humans, chimpanzees, leopards and the crowned eagle. Their typical predator response is to curl up in a tight ball against a tree hiding their orange crown and white stripes on the thighs, and wait silently for the predator to leave. They will only move if the predator approaches, and even then, they move quietly and slowly escape unnoticed.
This mainly arboreal species is associated with riverine forest habitats. It is found close to rivers in lowland, sub-montane tropical moist forests, swamp forests, semi-deciduous forests and Acacia-dominated forests.
In Uganda, you’ll find the De Brazza’s monkey in Mt Elgon National Park and Semuliki National Park near rivers and swamps.