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Poachers Wiping Out Rare Monkey in Tanzania

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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An endangered Old World monkey species found in only two sites in Tanzania is in danger of being poached and eaten into extinction, researchers from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center reported last week.

The Sanje mangabey (Cercocebus sanjei) lives only in the Mwanihana Forest and the Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve on the eastern slopes of Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains. A ground-dwelling species, the monkey spends very little time in trees, making it vulnerable to hunting and traps. It was first observed by Western scientists in 1979.

Mokoro Kitenana, a field technician with the TFCG, told IPP Media that the researchers found many traps in the Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve, as well as monkey meat for sale in nearby villages and scant evidence of remaining mangabeys in the forest. Not only does this bode poorly for the monkey itself, it could also affect the economy of the region: “If this is left to continue, the animals will be depleted from the mountains and that would be the end of tourists and foreign researchers visiting the Udzungwa Scarp,” he said.

An official with the reserve said that antipoaching patrols are being started.

According to a 2005 assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 40 percent of the 1,300 Sanje mangabeys estimated to exist lived in the Udzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve at the time.

Tanzania’s economy is not doing well; it had an August inflation rate of 14.1 percent, according to a recent report from Bloomberg Businessweek, and its currency is at a 45-year low, according to allAfrica.com. Poaching and wildlife crime are rampant in the country; a 2010 report (pdf) from the Elephant Trade Information System found that a large portion of the ivory smuggled throughout the world by organized crime originated in Tanzania, although the report also praised the country’s law enforcement officials for their work blocking smugglers. This August more than 1,000 elephant tusks were seized in Tanzania on their way to Malaysia. Last month another shipment of 695 tusks, which originated in Tanzania, was seized in Malaysia on its way to China.

Photo by Marc Veraart via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license

John R. Platt About the Author: Twice a week, John Platt shines a light on endangered species from all over the globe, exploring not just why they are dying out but also what's being done to rescue them from oblivion. Follow on Twitter @johnrplatt.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Unbelievabler 2:04 pm 10/5/2011

    It goes against evolution and common sense to expend any effort in propping up failed species in this manner.
    A much better way to increase mangabey numbers is to farm them for their meat. Breed them in captivity, sell the meat and everybody’s happy!

    Link to this
  2. 2. dr burke 11:16 pm 10/5/2011

    We can only hope that they regress when they ingest. Monkeys caring
    many untreatable diseases, that can cross over to humans. What you
    eat, you become. If it is a choice between a monkey or starving to death,
    I guess the monkey will get the short end of the stick. We are on top of the food chain, for some unknown reason. Maybe the answer lies in raising
    some domestic animal, that will keep them from hunting monkeys?

    Link to this
  3. 3. dr burke 11:18 pm 10/5/2011

    We can only hope that they regress when they ingest.

    Monkeys carry many untreatable diseases, that can
    cross over to humans.

    What you eat, you become.

    If it is a choice between a monkey or starving to
    death,

    I guess the monkey will get the short end of the stick.
    We are on top of the food chain, for some unknown
    reason. Maybe the answer lies in raising some
    domestic animal, that will keep them from hunting
    monkeys? Like wild turkeys or rabbits?

    Link to this

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