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Colobus guereza kikuyuensis

Colobus guereza kikuyuensis, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Primates
Subordo: Haplorrhini
Infraordo: Simiiformes
Parvordo: Catarrhini
Superfamilia: Cercopithecoidea
Familia: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Colobus
Species: Colobus guereza
Subspecies: Colobus guereza kikuyuensis

The Eastern Black-and-white Colobus (Colobus guereza kikuyuensis) is a large, tree-dwelling African subspecies of the Mantled Guereza. The most striking feature of this Old World monkey is its luxurious black coat; ornamented with long fringes of white fur down each side. Babies are pure white in color for the first few weeks of their life. This large, conspicuous primate is a common sight through tropical Africa, especially in forested areas.

In the wild

This subspecies is found across equatorial Africa, from Congo east to Ethiopia. Black and white colobus can adapt to any tropical wooded habitat, including rainforest, dry forest, open woodlands, and river valleys, at altitudes from 0 to 9300 feet above sea level. Although colobus are sometimes seen on the ground, they spend most of their time in the trees. They spend most of the day feeding, though they take time out for play and social grooming.

Black and white colobus are strict herbivores. While they occasionally eat fruit, their diet consists primarily of tree leaves, a very low-calorie, nutrient-poor food. To survive on this poor diet, colobus have evolved multi-chambered stomachs similar to those of cows. In the first chamber, bacteria ferment the leaves, increasing the nutrient availability. In the second chamber, the partially digested leaves are broken down further by enzymes and gastric acid. Because this digestive process takes so long and is so inefficient, up to a third of a colobus's weight may consist of the undigested leaves carried in its gut.

These primates live in social groups of 3 to 15 individuals. Each group has a single adult male, three or four adult females, and their offspring. Adult males that have not been strong enough to form their own troop may also travel together in all-male bachelor troops. Young animals are raised cooperatively by all troop members, and infants may nurse from any female in the troop. Troop members also cooperate to defend each other from predators or from potentially aggressive neighboring colobus troops. Because of these large, protective troops, black and white colobus have relatively few predators, though they may be hunted by eagles, leopards, and chimpanzees.

Females bear a single offspring every two years, after a 6 month gestation. Males mature at 4 years old, and females at 2 years old. The lifespan is 15 to 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.

Conservation status

Though some local populations are decreasing in number, overall this subspecies is numerous and stable in the wild. Black and white colobus are hunted by humans for their meat and fur. Their striking pelt is traditionally used for wall hangings and ornamentation on dresses or other clothes throughout equatorial Africa.


1. ^ Groves, C. (2005). Wilson, D. E., & Reeder, D. M, eds. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 168. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494.
2. ^ J. Kingdon, T. Struhsaker, J. F. Oates, J. Hart & C. P. Groves (2008) Colobus guereza ssp. kikuyuensis In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. Retrieved on February 2, 2010.

* M Hutchins, editor. 2004. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 14:Mammals III. Gale.

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License