Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 58 – The Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey


Red colobus and baby by David Edric

Photographer: David Edric

Description
Visualise someone leaping upwards fifty feet into the air carrying a twenty-five pound weight.  That is the equivalent of a female Zanzibar red colobus monkey travelling upwards with her clinging baby.  These colourful and friendly primates are Old World semi-brachiators, moving through the trees with a combination of leaping and brachiation. They are also quadrupedal, and can scamper on all fours across the top of the branches.  Above all, they are very athletic.  And, they are very endangered.

Zanzibar red colobus have pale-grey undersides with reddish-brown on the head and lower back.  They wear a mantle of black across the shoulders extending down the arms as a stripe.  They have black faces with white chins and foreheads.  Their legs have darker grey patches and their tails are brown.  Both male and female share these colours.  They are also very similar in size.

They do, however, have two notable features which single them out from other primates. Firstly, their tails are used as a balancing tool, whereas in other species the tail is used as an additional limb to aid forward movement.  Secondly, they lack opposable thumbs (colobus, is derived from the Greek word ekolobóse, meaning cut short).  Instead, they have four very long fingers which wrap around the branches enabling them to swing through the canopy with consummate ease.  On average, they weigh just under six kilos for males and five and a half kilos for females.  The mean length is twenty-two inches. Their tails are almost two feet long.

Within groups there is always a dominant male, determined by levels of aggression.  The hierarchy dictates the higher members of the group receive a larger distribution of food, social activities such as grooming, and females.  Groups can consist of as many as eighty individuals, though some are much less.  Females are usually more numerous within the groups.

There is no specific breeding season for the Zanzibar red colobus.  They mate throughout the year, but the inter-birth interval can be up to three years or more.  When the female falls pregnant, the gestation period lasts between five and six months, after which only one baby will be born.  The babies are born altricial and will be nursed for about eighteen months if female, and three to four years if male  (often males continue to nurse until they reach maturity).

The red colobus has a somewhat unusual predator in the chimpanzee.  Chimpanzees occasionally form large hunting parties and go on a killing spree for a few weeks.  They seem particularly fond of the red colobus.  When the marauding monkeys descend upon them, the red colobus males form a defence group, while the females collect their offspring ready to flee.  Sadly, the chimps manage to kill quite a lot of their fellow primates when on these missions and have been credited with contributing to the declining numbers.  The purpose is not solely to feed themselves, but also to acquire a nutritionally valuable item of trade.  With it, the chimpanzees are also able to show off their prowess to other males and their dependability to females.

Habitat
Gallery forest, scrub forest growing on coral rag and mangrove swamps.
Where
Endemic to Zanzibar  –  An island off the coast of (and part of) Tanzania,  East Africa
What they eat
Leaves, leaf buds, flowers and unripe fruit. On the ground, they eat charcoal to aid their digestive system.
Threats
Habitat destruction by way of logging, charcoal production, agricultural clearance and bush-burning.   They are sometimes shot for food, sport or as crop  pests by the locals, though these practice are now in decline and tourism is recognised as a valuable option. Illegal pet traders target the babies and will kill those around it who try to protect it. This can be a lot of monkeys.  Deaths on the roads happen from time to time.  Last of all, they fall prey to chimpanzees.  Those adorable little monkeys will eat meat, if given the chance, and are said to be responsible for killing up to one hundred red colobus every year.
Status: Endangered
The Zanzibar red colobus is listed on the  IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.   It is also listed as Class A under the African Convention, and protected under  Appendix I of CITES.   It is thought less than twelve hundred Zanzibar red colobus survive  in the wild.   Conservation funding has been provided by the WWF in the past, but little seems to have come of it.   In fact, there does not seem to be very much going on at all.   Although, awareness is being raised and farmers are now compensated by the government for damages to crops.  The majority of Zanzibar colobus live in the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

“All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports” Chief Seattle

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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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Welcome to another week of children’s book reviews.  As ever, I hope you will enjoy my varied choice of books and the reviews of them. Please don’t forget to scroll down the page and read them all.

Children’s Book of the Week: The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest “The Banana Tree” by Maggie van Galen – Illustrated by Joanna Lundeen
Available on Amazon: Hardcopy $19.95

Take one adorable, daring and disobedient little monkey, a very cautious, clever and ne’er do wrong elephant, throw in some rule breaking and mix with a hint of peril, and you have all the right ingredients for an utterly delightful children’s story. Please read my review below.

The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest -"The Banana Tree" - Review by Amelia CurzonMy Review

Best friends Keeno and Ernest spend much of their time together eating bananas. Day after day they go back to the same old tree.  Until one day, Keeno sees “a huge banana tree with hundreds – maybe thousands – of super yummy bananas” across the swirling river. He must have those yummy bananas at any cost, even if it means disobeying his parent’s rules to get them. He pleads with Ernest to cross the river with him, and when Ernest refuses on the premise his parents have told him not to do so without  supervision, Keeno decides to build a raft and go it alone. As you would expect with an adventurous young monkey like Keeno, terrible danger lurks around the next bend in the river. Way out of his depth, Keeno becomes very frightened. Fortunately, a mutual friend, Toucan Tom, flies by and Keeno gets him to whiz off and find Ernest – because “He always knows what to do!”

With The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest, Maggie van Galen has given us a book which is perfect for reading aloud, beautifully written and easy to understand.  And, it is not difficult to remember the object of Keeno’s desire as every page has the coveted banana tree in it. The animals are well-chosen for this particular story. Characteristically, Keeno is an impulsive and mischievous little monkey, Ernest is a sensible elephant able to heed and remember quite clearly whatever has been said to him, and Toucan Tom, the only other character in the tale, is a loud, loud bird. All perfect! I particularly liked the very vivid hand-painted illustrations by Joanna Lundeen. In fact, there is really nothing here not to like. Moreover, this is a story of friendship, and of learning that when your parents tell you not to do something, it is probably in your best interests not to do it. This is an ideal book for any young child. Highly recommended! (5 stars)

(The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest “The Banana Tree” would be best suited to 4 years and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed 

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns
Available on Amazon: Paperback $6.90 and Hardback $13.75

We All Went on Safari Review by Amelia CurzonI absolutely loved this book. We All Went on Safari is a counting picture book for young children, which also teaches them how to count to ten in another language – Swahili! It is tremendous fun, and after all, since the Maasai people are globally known; what better way of introducing young children to them and their culture than with a beautifully produced book such as this.
A group of Maasai women and children, accompanied by a Maasai warrior, take themselves on a short safari across the Serengeti where they encounter various wild animals, counting them in rhyme as they go; “We all went on safari, Among herds that intermix, We followed woolly wildebeests, Watende counted six”. The illustrations are simply gorgeous with their vibrant colours and wonderful depictions of the Maasai and their lands and wildlife.
Having learnt to count to ten (the numbers are depicted on each page thus: 1 – moja, 2 – mbili), the learning process continues at the back of the book with pictures and short facts about the animals of the Serengeti and their names in Swahili, the character’s names in Swahili with their meanings, facts about Tanzania (including a useful map) and numbers one to ten again in Swahili with an illustrated guide. Completely irresistible from beginning to end, this is a real must for any child’s bookshelf! (5 stars)
(We All Went on Safari is best suited to children ages 2 years upwards)

Little Music Lessons for Kids: Lesson 1 – A Fascinating Story about the Staff and Treble Clef by Tatiana Bandurina
Available on Amazon: eBook $4.11

Little Music Lessons for Kids Review by Amelia CurzonThis is a short and very clever introduction to sheet music for small children. And it’s fun. It begins with an unnamed musical family, all of whom play different instruments, being introduced by their puppy, the musical puppy. The puppy goes on to explain very carefully and in simple words, the basics behind the staff and the treble clef.  It counts the floors in the musical house (the staff) and compares them to the fingers on the hands.  It shows us on which floor of the house the treble clef lives. As the title suggests, the staff and the clef are the only subject matter in this lesson and are dealt with methodically using repetitive text, making the facts easy for a child to remember. At the end of the lesson there are some very helpful and concise step-by-step instructions for parents.  Even if, as a parent, you do not have any sort of background in music, but want to encourage your child, this is where to start. This is the first lesson in a series of ten. Refreshing, thoughtful, educational and very appealing! (5 stars)
(Little Music Lessons for Kids is best suited to 3 to 9 years old)

The Awkward Owl by Shawnda Blake                                                                                                             Available on Amazon: eBook $2.96 and Paperback $9.99

The Awkward Owl  Review by Amelia CurzonThis is a very sweet book about a clumsy little owl that couldn’t fly.  Hard as he tried, he always seemed to end the wrong way up and the wrong way round.  One day he crashed into the trunk of tree and fell to the ground. A small girl picked him up, took him home and loved him. She gave him some much-needed encouragement to try again, by telling him he could do it. And do it he did.
The text is well-written and enjoyable, and I loved the book cover at the beginning of the story promoting ‘Flying Basics: For the Beginner Bird’ – both funny and clever. Regrettably, the illustrations, hand-drawn in crayon, didn’t really grab me, though young children may well identify with the style and simplicity.
There is also a message here: If you try hard enough you can do anything – so always believe in yourself.
A great little book for the very young!  (4 stars)
(The Awkward Owl would be best suited to 2 years upwards)

***

All my reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.