How can you not fall in love with this face? This is a blue monkey and I think it is so gosh darn cute – like a monkey-owl hybrid. The blue monkey (Cercopithecus mites) is wide-ranging across Africa, but has a whole lot of subspecies (17!). Some are common, while others are threatened, but the species as a whole is of least concern, albeit declining.
These camera trap photos comes from our research expedition on Mount Kenya where we set trail cameras to capture wildlife from the bottom to the top. These blue monkeys were found in the higher elevation bamboo forests, where not a lot of other species were seen.
Blue monkeys live in groups of 20-40 individuals with only one adult male, and thought to have egalitarian societies, meaning everyone is more or less equal without strong dominance hierarchies. However, some studies have found dominance (Pazol and Cords 2004), but it’s not as obvious because the monkey fights are not as aggressive as in other species over prized fruits. This is thought to be due to their diverse diet in the forest, allowing them to switch to other food sources. They also chose to give up time resting and spent more time looking for these scare resources rather than fighting for preferred ones.
A 29 year study of individuals found that blue monkeys are slow breeders – they have their first infant usually around 7 years old! These all female groups also younger females who have not had babies practice by handling other mother’s infants.
For ultimate guide to African mammals, use Kingdon’s!
Stephanie Schuttler is a wildlife biologist with 17 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her inspirational story, “My Unexpected Journey Into Science” to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology. Feel free to contact Stephanie here.