37 Types of Monkeys Found in Africa! (ID Guide)

What kinds of monkeys live in Africa?

If you visit Africa, it’s only natural to ask yourself the above question. I mean, who doesn’t want to see monkeys!?

Luckily, there are quite a few species you should be able to find. So, keep reading to learn how to identify each monkey, ape, and primate, and learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!

37 monkey species that live in AFRICA:


#1. Olive Baboon

  • Papio anubis

Also known as the Anubis Baboon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 85 cm (33 in) long. 
  • Their long muzzles resemble a dog’s, and their tails are strangely bent as if they were broken.
  • As their name suggests, their fur has an olive tint.

Olive Baboons are among the largest monkeys in Africa!

You’ll find them in savannas, forests, and grasslands. These primates gather in groups of 15-150 members.

Their flexible diets, as well as their adaptability to different habitats, have made them the most widespread species of all baboons. Olive Baboons eat anything from plants to small animals. When hunting as a band, they can even take down small antelopes! Populations close to farmlands also prey on goats and sheep.

These monkeys follow a complex social hierarchy. Adult females form the core of the system, with social ranks passed down from mother to daughter. Several females create smaller sub-groups to groom each other and provide backup during conflicts. Meanwhile, males compete with one another to establish dominance.


#2. Chimpanzee

  • Pan troglodytes

Also known as Chimps.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • On average, adults are 150 cm (59 in) long.
  • Their faces, hands, and feet are hairless, and they do not have tails.
  • They have shaggy coats of black fur. Gray patches and bald spots may develop as they age.

Although related, Chimpanzees are technically apes, not monkeys.

Chimpanzees have remarkable intelligence and are humans’ closest animal relatives. You’ll see them using altered sticks when probing for insects and honey. They also use rocks and branches to bash open hard-shelled nuts. Occasionally, they even rub insects onto their wounds for medical relief.

This iconic species lives in communities of up to 150 members. Frequently, they split into smaller groups when foraging for food. They mostly eat fruits, though they sometimes prey on warthogs and small monkeys when they are craving meat. Male chimps act as guardians, fighting off males from rival groups to defend their territories.

Chimpanzees are fascinating creatures, but it’s best to observe them from afar. In addition to their sharp teeth and incredible strength, chimps can be wildly unpredictable and aggressive. Several attacks on humans have been recorded, some of which have resulted in death.

Check out this video of the “Top 5” chimpanzee moments caught on camera by BBC Earth.


#3. Mantled Guereza

  • Colobus guereza

Also known as the Eastern Black-and-white Colobus and Omo River Guereza.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 62 cm (24 in). 
  • Their faces are framed with white hair, but the tufts on their heads are black. Their tails have white tufts towards the tips.
  • Their coats are mostly black with long, white-tipped hairs on the back.

The Mantled Guereza is one of the prettiest monkeys in Africa. They hang out in groups of 3-15 members, usually near river streams. You’ll have to look up the treetops to spot them! They leap across branches with ease, only descending to the ground when the gaps in the canopy are too wide.

The most common way to find Mantled Guerezas is to listen. They make a chorus of roars just before sunrise! Dominant males from different groups roar at one another to declare their territories. This prevents unnecessary conflict between the groups. 

With only leaves, flowers, and unripe fruits as their source of nutrition, these monkeys don’t get enough energy for long travel and foraging. Instead, they take turns sleeping throughout the day, with at least one individual acting as a guard against predators.


#4. Red-tailed Monkey

  • Cercopithecus ascanius

Also known as the Red-tailed Guenon or Schmidt’s Guenon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-61 cm (12-24 in) long, with tails that can reach 89 cm (35 in).
  • Their noses and cheeks are notably white, while their tails are reddish brown.
  • Brown or dark gray hair covers their bodies.

Red-tailed Monkeys in Africa use their long tails to balance themselves as they travel from tree to tree. If you encounter one of them, expect up to 30 more nearby. These monkeys live in forested regions. A dominant male leads the rest of the group, which consists mostly of females and their offspring.

Though they enjoy eating fruits the most, Red-tailed Monkeys switch to consuming leaves and insects in times of scarcity. Interestingly, they use their cheek pouches to store whatever food they find. They eat only once they’ve retreated to a safe area away from predators and thieving rivals.

This species is quite sociable, and it’s common to see them bumping noses as a form of greeting. Additionally, they make bird-like chirps when communicating from a distance. They also groom one another to deepen their bonds.


#5. Vervet Monkey

  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus

Also known as the Vervet, Common Vervet, Desert Tumbuli, or Yellow Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 42-60 cm (17-24 in) long with 49-75 cm (19-30 in) tails.
  • Males are larger, and you can easily identify them by their bright blue scrotums.
  • They have black faces. Their fur coats are shades of gray that grow brown towards the back.

Keep your food hidden! Vervet Monkeys are bold and frequently steal food from households.

These cheeky monkeys live in Africa in woodlands, savannahs, and mountainous regions. Their behavior is incredibly similar to humans, with some individuals showing traits such as anxiety and alcoholism.

Vervet Monkeys spend as much time among the trees as they do on the ground. When foraging the forest floor, they gather in groups of 10-40 individuals. Then, after a long day, they climb back up to the highest branches to rest.

Note that these monkeys are highly territorial and will scream aggressively at any intruders! For example, if a Vervet spots a predator lurking around, it will bellow an alarm call to inform others of the danger.


#6. Blue Monkey

  • Cercopithecus mitis

Also known as the Diademed Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-65 cm (20-26 in) long.
  • Look for a white patch of fur on their necks. They also have round, furry cheeks.
  • Contrary to their name, Blue Monkeys have grayish or olive coats.

Look for Blue Monkeys in Africa high among the tree canopy.

They prefer shaded areas with high humidity and nearby water sources. Blue Monkeys are occasional allies and share territory with Red-tailed Monkeys. On the other hand, they avoid Baboons and Chimpanzees, who sometimes prey on them.

Blue Monkeys function in groups of 10-15. An alpha male acts as the leader of several subgroups consisting of females and their children. Females can be aggressive towards one another, especially when defending their food.

Roughly half of their diets are fruits, but they also eat flowers, leaves, and slow-moving invertebrates. Blue Monkeys rarely leave the safety of treetops, so don’t expect to come across one at ground level. However, sometimes, they bask in the early morning sun from lower bare branches.


#7. Grey-cheeked Mangabey

  • Lophocebus albigena

Also known as the White-cheeked Mangabey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45-73 cm (18-29 in) long with tails between 67-100 cm (26-39 in).
  • A dull brown mane covers their necks, shoulders, and chests. Their thick coats are dark brown or black.
  • They have whitish or gray hairs on their cheeks, as their name suggests.

The Grey-cheeked Mangabey lives in the treetops of tropical forests alongside 5-30 others. Territories usually overlap between opposing groups. Thankfully, these groups avoid one another, so conflicts rarely occur. Several males act as protectors, risking their lives to drive away eagles that prey on their young.

Foraging for food high up in the canopy can be treacherous. Fortunately, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys have long, prehensile tails to help them balance as they leap from branch to branch.

They use their strong jaws to crack hard nuts and seeds that other primates can’t open. However, figs are their favorite food. They like them so much that studies have even shown that Grey-cheeked Mangabeys give birth more often during the fruiting season of fig trees! 


#8. Moustached Monkey

  • Cercopithecus cephus

Also known as the Moustached Guenon or Red-tailed Mustached Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 49-58 cm (19-23 in) long with 70-78 cm (28-31 in) tails.
  • They have bluish-gray faces. Their coats are a blend of gray and brown fur.
  • True to their name, these monkeys have a prominent white strip of fur under their noses, resembling a mustache!

Moustached Monkeys in Africa are naturally gifted jumpers.

They can leap across tree gaps up to 20 meters (66 feet) apart! Most of the time, however, they prefer to walk on all fours. Careful not to fall, they use their tails to grip branches for balance. 

Gathering in troops of 10-40 members, Moustached Monkeys sometimes ally with other primates such as Mangabeys. These alliances allow them to have more eyes looking for predators.

Moustached Monkeys mostly eat fruits, but nuts from oil palm trees are a crucial part of their diets. As omnivores, they also eat baby birds, eggs, and insects. These monkeys store food in their large cheek pouches while foraging to avoid predators. Then, they retreat to sheltered areas where they can eat in peace.


#9. Patas Monkey

  • Erythrocebus patas

Also known as the Wadi Monkey or Hussar Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally 61-89 cm (24-35 in) long and have 51-76 cm (20-30 in) tails.
  • Males are much larger than females.
  • White hair frames their dark faces. They have pale coats that grow reddish brown around their backs.

Patas Monkeys aren’t your average monkey in Africa that lives in trees!

Instead, they are ground-dwellers known for their impressive speed. Patas Monkeys are the fastest sprinters among primates, clocking in at 55 km/h (34 mph). They roam savannahs where trees are sparse and widely spaced.

Troops of Patas Monkeys can contain up to 60 members, with only one adult male leading the females and juveniles. At night, they sleep together in trees where predators can’t reach them. Sometimes, they must boldly fight off wildcats and jackals at watering holes!

Since they live in arid habitats, they spend a lot of time finding food and water. These monkeys like to feed on sap leaking out from Acacia tree trunks. Where their territories encroach with human settlements, they’ve acquired a taste for farm crops.


#10. Tantalus Monkey

  • Chlorocebus tantalus
Credit (left image): Bernard Dupont, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-83 cm (12-33 in) long, with 41-66 cm (16-26 in) tails.
  • Males are notably larger than females.
  • They have dark faces outlined with white fur.
  • Their undersides are white, while the rest of their coats are grayish or yellow.

It’s common to encounter Tantalus Monkeys in Africa near people due to urban expansion. This species thrives in woodlands, grasslands, and degraded forests. Groups of 30 individuals loiter around the edges of forests, always close to fresh water. Their varied diets include grasses, berries, and small animals, but they enjoy fruits the most.

Tantalus Monkeys don’t take kindly to strangers, aggressively screaming to shoo away intruders. They have 36 unique alarm calls for different situations and threats. They’re so loud because they aren’t as nimble as other monkeys in trees.

Bands of Tantalus Monkeys spend most of their days foraging on the ground. Cleverly, these primates store food inside their cheeks for later consumption. Once a feeding ground runs low on resources, they migrate to new areas.


#11. Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey

  • Cercopithecus petaurista

Also known as the Lesser White-nosed Guenon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-120 cm (39-47 in) long and have 61 cm (24 in) long tails.
  • As their name implies, they have prominent white fur on their noses.
  • Light-colored tufts of fur cover their cheeks.
  • Their undersides are cream, though the rest of their coats are brown and gray.

Lesser Spot-nosed Monkeys inhabit forests and scrublands in Africa. They travel in groups of 20-30. With birds of prey circling overhead and leopards lurking on the ground, caution is a way of life for these monkeys. When a male spots a predator, you’ll hear a loud cat-like purr to alert others.

Sometimes, Lesser Spot-nosed Monkeys mingle with other species. They work together to spot danger and deter intruders. A juvenile male leaves his group for a new one once he’s mature enough. On the other hand, females stay with their original troops for life, acting as group caretakers.


#12. Olive Colobus

  • Procolobus verus

Also known as the Green Colobus or Van Beneden’s Colobus.

By Jean Charles Chenu – Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 50 cm (20 in) long.
  • Their coats are gray with a brown tint, and their undersides are paler in contrast.

Olive Colobuses are a vulnerable species affected by hunting and habitat loss. Still, they persist in swamps and rainforests. Look carefully! Their coloring makes them blend well into the foliage, hidden from predators. They’re also shy creatures, often fleeing at the slightest sense of danger.

Olive Colobuses are folivores. That means they mainly eat leaves, specifically young buds and shoots. Interestingly, their stomachs can digest plant leaves that are toxic to other monkeys in Africa! 

Olive Colobuses swing across branches with impressive grace. Bands include 3-15 individuals, with males and females having multiple partners. Males occasionally mate with another species known as Diana Monkeys. Interestingly, female Olive Colobuses carry their babies around using their mouths for the first few weeks!


#13. Putty-nosed Monkey

  • Cercopithecus nictitans

Also known as the Cowardly Monkey and Greater Spot-nosed Monkey.

Credit (left image): Javi Guerra Hernando, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 43-66 cm (17-26 in) long. Their tails can grow 36-53 cm (14-21 in) in length.
  • These monkeys earned their names because of their distinctive white noses.
  • You might notice a “mustache” on their upper lips. They have olive-gray fur.

You’ll need to look up to spot Putty-nosed Monkeys in Africa.

They rarely climb down to the forest floor. These monkeys thrive in humid habitats such as tropical and mangrove forests. A community has 12-30 members, each skilled at acrobatic displays when traveling from branch to branch.

A Putty-nosed monkey with puffy cheeks is likely saving food for later. Its highly elastic cheek pouch can store almost as much food as its stomach can fit. This species feeds mainly on fruits and occasionally nuts and leaves. Populations living close to agricultural lands might raid farm crops as well.

Putty-nosed Monkeys are incredibly alert and vocal. Males often make booming calls to signal danger to the rest of their troops. They’re so easily startled that some people call them “cowardly monkeys.”


#14. Western Gorilla

  • Gorilla gorilla

Also known simply as gorillas.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 120-180 cm (47-71 in) tall.
  • They are mostly black or dark gray, though their foreheads have a brown tinge.
  • Adult males have a patch of silver hair on their backs.
  • Females are roughly half the size of males. They also have much less prominent crowns.

The critically endangered Western Gorilla lives in secluded tropical rainforests and swamps. An adult male, or “silverback,” typically protects 4-8 adult females and their offspring.

Together, these apes travel vast distances in search of their favorite food: fruits. They also supplement their diets with roots, shoots, and nuts. During drier seasons, you’ll see them probing termite mounds with tools fashioned from sticks.

Most of the time, Western Gorillas live peacefully even when they cross paths with other groups. Now and then, however, a silverback will challenge the troop leader to usurp his position. You’ll recognize such challenges when these apes start beating their chests with their fists.

While their parents are busy foraging for the family, juveniles play with each other during the day. Once night falls, Western Gorillas build nests out of plant material. They each get a nest to sleep in, except for infants who sleep with their mothers.


#15. Angola Colobus

  • Colobus angolensis

Also known as the Angolan Black-and-white Colobus.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-70 cm (20–28 in) long. Their 71-84 cm (28-33 in) tails have puffy white tips.
  • Long fringes of white hair hang from their dark faces and shoulders.
  • The rest of their bodies are coated with black fur.

Don’t expect a friendly encounter with these strange-looking monkeys in Africa! Angola Colobuses are aggressively territorial. A troop of up to 25 monkeys will mob trespassers to drive them away. Females typically lead the troop, while the dominant male acts as the defender. These primates thrive in bamboo habitats and other forests. 

Seeing an Angola Colobus falling from great heights might surprise you, but don’t worry! These monkeys are famous for their impressive acrobatics and can easily grab a branch while free-falling. In addition, their lightweight and long-limbed bodies are perfect for leaping across the canopy.

Though they might have slim frames, Angola Colobuses have huge appetites. Their digestive systems are like cows and goats: they spend hours eating up to 3 kg (7 lbs) of leaves! They have no trouble digesting unripe fruits and mature leaves that other monkeys can’t.


#16. Crowned Monkey

  • Cercopithecus pogonias

Also known as Crested Mona Monkey, Crowned Guenon, Golden-bellied Guenon, or Golden-bellied Monkey.

Credit (left image): Wikipedia Loves Art participant “Houston_Museum_Of_Natural_Science.”

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow 32-53 cm (13-21 in) long, with 66-89 cm (26-35 in) tails.
  • Males are larger than females, and you can distinguish them by their blue scrotums.
  • Take note of the black “mask” spanning their temples, eyes, and noses.
  • They have brown coats of fur with gray specks. Their undersides are paler in contrast.

Crowned Monkeys in Africa live in lowland rainforests that feature healthy canopies. They are clever and quick-handed, swiftly stuffing their cheeks with fruits and seeds. Before eating, they move to a safer area where thieves and predators can’t reach them. 

Normally, a band of Crowned Monkeys has 8-20 members and is led by an alpha male. They’re highly vocal. You’ll recognize them by the booming call an alpha makes to announce his territory to neighboring troops.

Crowned Monkeys are impressively agile. To cross wide-gapped branches, they run on all fours before making an enormous leap. They normally walk unscathed even when they miss their landing and fall to the ground. While resting, they entwine their tails with each other.


#17. Eastern Gorilla

  • Gorilla beringei

Also known as Mountain Gorilla.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These muscular apes can reach 150-170 cm (59-67 in) in length. They don’t have tails.
  • Males are significantly larger than females. As males age, the saddles on their backs turn silvery. Hence, older males are called “silverbacks.”
  • They have deep black or bluish-black coats.

Eastern Gorillas are the largest living primates on Earth! Sadly, they are a critically endangered species due to habitat destruction. There are two subspecies: Eastern Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas. Both hail from Africa, though you’ll find the first one in lowland tropical forests while the other endures the cold climates of cloud forests.

Fruits are scarce in their native range, so Eastern Gorillas primarily have leafy diets. Fortunately, this also means they don’t have to travel far to forage for food.

Because of their formidable size and strength, Eastern Gorillas don’t have many natural predators. This allows them to build their nests on the forest floor. They live in communities of up to 35 members led by a protective silverback. Though they’re mostly peaceful, a charging silverback gorilla is a heart-stopping sight. So always keep a respectful distance!


#18. Green Monkey

  • Chlorocebus sabaeus

Also known as Sabaeus Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults have a body length of 30-60 cm (12-24 in). Their gold-tipped tails are 41-76 cm (16-30 in) long.
  • They have yellowish hair surrounding their dark faces.
  • These monkeys have a tinge of green and gold on their grayish coats. Their undersides are white in contrast.

If you spot a Green Monkey in Africa, chances are there are more nearby! A community can harbor up to 80 individuals, often staying near fresh water. They go swimming in rivers to cool down when it gets too hot. These monkeys can survive in habitats such as rainforest outskirts, dry woodlands, and coastal areas.

60% of their waking hours are spent traveling and searching for food. They prefer fruits, seeds, and leaves. As opportunistic predators, Green Monkeys also eat insects, small lizards, crabs, and lungfish. Populations overlapping with urban regions are notorious for stealing food from unwary tourists. Stay vigilant! 🙂

These primates are quite vulnerable, so they’ve developed distinct calls to warn troop mates of predators. For example, barks indicate a leopard sighting, while chirps alert others of a snake slithering around. Green Monkeys are quieter in areas where hunting is prevalent to hide from poachers.


#19. Lowe’s Monkey

  • Cercopithecus lowei

Also known as Lowe’s Mona Monkey.

Credit (left image): dnshitobu, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow 32-53 cm (13-21 in) in length, with 67-90 cm (26-35 in) long tails.
  • Their eyes are large, rounded, and reddish brown.
  • Their coats are a mix of dark brown and gray, with white underparts. They also have frames of blonde hair on their faces.

Keep an eye out for these energetic monkeys in Africa!

Lowe’s Monkeys reside in tropical and mangrove forests, with some populations coinciding with human settlements. On average, a group of Lowe’s Monkeys will have 6-16 members, with a dominant male acting as the leader.

Lowe’s Monkeys gorge themselves on fruits during the wet seasons. Then, they switch to a diet of leaves in dry seasons. You might also see them foraging for food scraps in garbage dumps. Occasionally, they have a taste for insects and invertebrates as well. 

Unfortunately, this species is often hunted and poached in its native range. Their loud vocalizations make them easy targets. Females have wider vocal ranges, but males take on the duty of alerting the group when predators are nearby. At dusk and dawn, a male Lowe’s Monkey will climb a tall tree to bellow resounding calls. 


#20. Mona Monkey

  • Cercopithecus mona

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are approximately 41-51 cm (16-20 in) long, with 52-73 cm (20-29 in) tails that become blacker towards the tip.
  • They have fuzzy white hair on their cheeks and foreheads.
  • Their coats are a mix of brown, gray, and brick red. In contrast, their underparts are creamy white.

Though they face habitat decline, Mona Monkeys in Africa are widespread in lowland and mangrove forests. They enjoy loitering near riverbanks. About a dozen individuals converge to form a troop. If they sense a predator on the prowl, they all freeze and stay completely motionless to remain undetected.

Mona Monkeys have quite interesting vocalizations! For example, they squeak at each other while foraging, and their alarm calls sound like sneezes and high-pitched chirps. Meanwhile, dominant males make booming calls to establish their territories.

Mona Monkeys are most active in the early mornings and late afternoons, reserving the midday for rest and grooming. They can run and leap across tree gaps with athletic skill. They scour the canopies for fruits, flowers, leaves, and seeds. Brazenly, some specimens even hunt snakes!


#21. Mohol Bushbaby

  • Galago moholi

Also known as the Southern Lesser Galago.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 15 cm (6 in) long with a tail of 23 cm (9 in).
  • They have notably large and rounded eyes. Their ears, hands, and feet are also proportionally large.
  • Their wooly coats range from gray to brown. Some have stripes and markings on their bodies.

Mohol Bushbabies are some of the cutest primates in Africa!

Don’t blink, or you’ll miss them! These fast little critters sprint and leap through the tangle of branches, using their long tails for balance.

What they lack in size, they make up for with an array of adaptive abilities. Mohol Bushbabies are equipped with large eyes to help them see in the dark of night. Also, their twitchy ears can detect the faintest sounds from the insects they feed on. Finally, their tongues are narrow enough to reach deep into cracks where bugs hide. These primates eat fruits, nuts, and tree sap if they can’t find prey.

Interestingly, Mohol Bushbabies got their name because their cries sound like that of a human infant! Family units of 2-5 mark their territories with urine to keep outsiders from trespassing. Adult females and their children sleep together in tree hollows, while adult males sleep alone. They tend to bite and spit when threatened, so try not to startle them.


#22. Senegal Bushbaby

  • Galago senegalensis

Also known as the Northern Lesser Galago.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Even as adults, these tiny creatures are only 9-21 cm (4-8 in) long, with 11-28 cm (4-11 in) tails.
  • They have notably large and rounded eyes. Their ears, hands, and feet are also proportionally large.
  • Their wooly coats range from gray to brown. Some have stripes and markings on their bodies.

Senegal Bushbabies are one of the most widespread primates in Africa!

They thrive in dry woodlands and savannas. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss them! These fast little critters sprint and leap through the tangle of branches, using their long tails for balance.

What they lack in size, they make up for with an array of adaptive abilities. Senegal Bushbabies are equipped with large eyes to help them see in the dark of night. Also, their twitchy ears can detect the faintest sounds from the insects they feed on. Finally, their tongues are narrow enough to reach deep into cracks where bugs hide. These primates eat fruits, nuts, and tree sap if they can’t find prey.

Interestingly, Senegal Bushbabies got their name because their cries sound like that of a human infant! Family units of 2-5 mark their territories with urine to keep outsiders from trespassing. Adult females and their children sleep together in tree hollows, while adult males sleep alone. They tend to bite and spit when threatened, so try not to startle them.


#23. West African Potto

  • Perodicticus potto

Also known as the Bush Bear, Tree Bear, and Softly-softly.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-39 cm (12-15 in). Their tails can grow 4-10 cm (2-4 in) long.
  • Their thick limbs are roughly the same length as their bodies!
  • They have pointed snouts, and their coats are different shades of brown.

The West African Potto inhabits coastal and lowland forests where vegetation runs thick. Smaller specimens prefer warm habitats, while larger ones can withstand cooler mountain climates. While they mostly eat fruits, they can also feed on prey slugs and poisonous millipedes that other primates ignore.

Unlike most social primates, West African Pottos live alone. The only exceptions are females who care for their offspring. They don’t have the branch-swinging agility typically associated with monkeys. Instead, they are slow, quiet travelers. If you try to approach them, they might feel threatened and stay frozen still until you go away.

Sluggish as West African Pottos are, these night-dwelling primates aren’t entirely defenseless. Bony protrusions called scapular shields protect their necks and shoulders against biting predators. Additionally, they use these shields to knock their attackers off trees with a well-placed headbutt. 


#24. Agile Mangabey

  • Cercocebus agilis
By Joseph Smit – Novitates Zoologicae, vol. 8, Public Domain

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 44-65 cm (17-26 in) in length and have long tails.
  • They have bare, black faces bordered by light-colored tufts of hair.
  • Their coats are short, olive-gray, and paler toward their underparts.

Agile Mangabeys prefer to live in swampy areas and untouched forests. A dominant male leads a troop of 7-22 members. They usually stay high up in the trees near freshwater sources. However, they descend to the forest floor during the dry season to forage. 

Like most monkeys in Africa, Agile Mangabeys eat fruits, grasses, and mushrooms. Additionally, this species has large teeth and powerful jaws to break open hard nuts. They don’t always eat their spoils on the spot. Sometimes, they store food inside their cheek pouches to snack on later.

You’ll most likely hear Agile Mangabeys before you see them! These noisy monkeys have many calls for alerting and maintaining their groups. If you do see one, watch out when it starts staring and bobbing its head up and down. This is an aggression display, so it’s best you take the hint and back away.


#25. Ashy Red Colobus

  • Piliocolobus tephrosceles

Also known as the Ugandan Red Colobus.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 46-67 cm (18-26 in) long and have 62-72 cm (24-28 in) tails.
  • You’ll notice a rusty red cap on the crowns of their heads.
  • They have light gray coats that grow darker as they age.

Ashy Red Colobuses live peacefully in Africa in the depths of tropical jungles. But sadly, their habitats are routinely harvested for lumber, causing a decline in their population. Unfortunately, this also forces some groups of colobuses to raid farmers’ bean fields to find enough food to survive.

These monkeys congregate in communities of up to 80 members. As social animals, they enjoy grooming one another to strengthen bonds and promote hygiene. Though otherwise calm, these primates will fight rather than flee in the face of danger.

Did you know that Ashy Red Colobuses have four-chambered stomachs filled with helpful bacteria? This adaptation allows them to digest their fibrous plant diets. Still, digesting takes a long time, so they slack around in the safety of trees for 7-10 hours after eating. Amusingly, their stomach gasses make them burp out loud!


#26. Campbell’s Monkey

  • Cercopithecus campbelli

Also known as Campbell’s Mona Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 36-55 cm (14-22 in). Their tails are generally 49-85 (19-33 in) cm long.
  • They have a bright yellow patch on the forehead, and their coats are a blend of black, gray, and cream.

Campbell’s Monkeys in Africa thrive in coastal savannas, lowland forests, and swamps overgrown with mangroves. Bands of 8-10 individuals spend most of their lives high up in trees. Females have close relationships with other females, while the male that protects the group is more distant.

 Campbell’s Monkeys have a wide arsenal of vocalizations to alert each other of danger. Amazingly, they can string together particular sounds to form unique sentences. The male climbs the tallest trees at dusk and dawn to issue a booming call. It’s hard to miss, even from a distance!

Campbell’s Monkeys primarily feed on fruits and insects, though they also supplement their diets with leaves. Sometimes, you’ll find them meticulously looking for bugs inside curled leaves.


#27. Central Potto

  • Perodicticus edwardsi

Also known as the Milne-Edwards Potto.

Credit (left image): Ltshears, (right image): Daderot, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 37-42 cm (15-17 in). Their puffy tails are about 6 cm (2 in) long.
  • They have large eyes and pointed snouts.
  • Their thick coats are different shades of brown.

These solitary primates live in swampy areas and lowland tropical forests. Central Pottos are shy and nocturnal, so they’re not easy to come by. Look for glowing orbs in the dark! Central Pottos have a layer of reflective tissue through their retinas, giving them keen night vision and luminescent eyes.

Fruits make up most of their food intake, with figs being a particular favorite. In times of drought, Central Pottos sustain themselves with tree gum, snails, and insects. After foraging at night, they retreat to the safety of tree hollows to rest in the daytime.

Central Pottos aren’t acrobats like other monkeys in Africa.

Instead, they make slow, stealthy movements as they cross branches so they don’t attract attention from predators. Mother pottos rub saliva on their offspring to repel predators. Despite their docile personalities, they are better left alone. If cornered, these animals will hiss and lunge at their captors.


#28. Diana Guenon

  • Cercopithecus diana

Also known as Diana Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-55 cm (16-22 in) long, with 50-75 cm (20-30 in) tails.
  • White beards outline the bottom half of their black faces, and they have a white stripe across their brow.
  • They have black coats, though their throats and shoulders are white. Some specimens have a red patch on their backs.

Look up! This monkey in Africa dwells in the upper levels of old-growth forests. Diana Guenons feed on various fruits, leaves, flowers, and invertebrates. They live alongside 15-50 others under the protection of an alpha male. 

Danger lurks around every corner, so these monkeys always have to stay on their toes! Diana Guenons are so skilled at spotting predators that other primates, such as Colobus Monkeys, take a cue from their alarm calls.

Nervous and fiercely protective, female Diana Guenons never let their infants out of sight. Eventually, juvenile males leave their mothers and find a new group once they grow old enough. Meanwhile, daughters stay with their mothers for life. Diana Guenon monkeys enjoy grooming each other to develop their strong social bonds. 


#29. King Colobus

  • Colobus polykomos

Also known as the Western Black-and-white Colobus.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45-72 cm (18-28 in) long, while their white tails are 52-100 cm (20-39 in).
  • Tufts of silver-white hair frame their bare faces, extending down to their chests and shoulders.
  • They have jet-black coats of hair.

Unlike most other monkeys in Africa, these primates live on the forest floor.

King Colobuses thrive in lowland and mountainous rainforests. Their diets include fruits and flowers, but their favorite food is leaves. Interestingly, some of the leaves they eat are toxic, so they occasionally eat charcoal to detoxify their stomach walls.

A group of King Colobuses contains 1-3 adult males, 3-4 adult females, and their offspring. If you watch them closely, you’ll notice that females share closer relationships with the same sex, while males keep to themselves. They are highly territorial, and rival bands often clash where their homes overlap. 

When a group of King Colobuses succeeds in defending its territory, females from the opposing group may switch sides. Naturally, they look for the strongest partners that can offer protection. Unfortunately, this means any of their infants from previous partners will be killed by the males from the new group.


#30. L’Hoest’s Monkey

  • Allochrocebus lhoesti

Also known as the Mountain Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 32-69 cm (13-27 in) long, and their hooked tails add another 48-99 cm (19-39 in).
  • Look for their distinctive white beards contrasting the rest of their bodies!
  • They have dark brown or black coats, with a patch of chestnut brown hair on their backs.

L’Hoest’s Monkeys in Africa prowl savannas, mountains, and lowland forests.

These bearded monkeys scour the ground for herbs and mushrooms. If they happen upon small animals and insects, they’ll catch and eat those too. Fence your properties! This species is known to steal crops from neighboring agricultural lands.

Unlike most primates, L’Hoest’s Monkeys spend more time on the ground than in the canopy. Nonetheless, they’re still expert climbers. When chased by predators, they will rush to the safety of trees and stay motionless until danger passes. Strangely, these monkeys sleep while sitting upright or clinging to branches. 

An adult male leads a group of 10-17 females and their offspring. However, he won’t hold that position forever. It’s common for males from other groups to challenge the pack leader for authority and mating rights. On average, the alpha male loses his rank within a year or two.


#31. Mandrill

  • Mandrillus sphinx

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 55-95 cm (22-37 in) long, with extremely short tails.
  • Males are unmistakable! They are large and have colorful faces. A patch of ridged blue skin flanks its bright red nose.
  • Females are much smaller and have less vibrant colors.
  • They have shaggy olive-brown coats with patches of pale blonde hair on the undersides.

The Mandrill is the largest true monkey in Africa!

Inhabiting freshwater swamps, savannas, and tropical rainforests, these monkeys spend their day foraging at ground level. They pick a new tree to sleep in each night so predators can’t track them down.

They predominantly eat fruits, seeds, and leaves. What you might find surprising, though, is that Mandrills actively hunt down young antelopes! First, they kill their prey with a sharp bite to the head. Afterward, the meat is shared with all who helped during the hunt.

A group of Mandrills is called a “horde,” which is appropriate considering their numbers rise into the hundreds. Males try to establish dominance by slapping the ground and intimidating each other. However, they actively avoid fights because their long canines can inflict grievous wounds on each other.


#32. Small-eared Greater Galago

  • Otolemur garnettii

Also known as the Northern Greater Galago and Garnett’s Bushbaby.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 23-34 cm (9-13 in). Their tails span 31-44 cm (12-17 in).
  • Males are larger than females.
  • Contrary to their common name, they have large ears in proportion to their bodies. They also have large eyes and round noses.
  • They have wooly gray-brown coats.

The Small-eared Greater Galago lives in highlands and coastal forests. This tiny, night-dwelling critter travels across intertwining branches with quick hops. As it lands on its hind limbs after each jump, you’d almost think it’s a tiny kangaroo! In fact, this primate can jump as high as six feet (1.8 m) into the air!

Fruits and insects are the Small-eared Greater Galago’s staple diet. It also fishes for mollusks in coastal areas. When food is scarce, it can survive on tree gum. Most animals can’t digest gums, but thankfully, this primate has bacteria in its gut to break the stuff down.

Living solitary lives, Small-eared Greater Galagos mark their territory with urine and excretions from their chest glands. Curiously, females are the dominant sex. They can be aggressive against individuals that pass through their homes.


#33. Southern Needle-clawed Galago

  • Euoticus elegantulus

Also known as the Elegant Galago and Western Needle-clawed Bushbaby.

By lennarthud: iNaturalist

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 20 cm (8 in) long. Their tails average 29 cm (11 in).
  • They have significantly huge eyes and ears in proportion to their body size.
  • Their soft coats are a blend of orange-brown and gray hair. Their underparts are paler in contrast.

Southern Needle-clawed Galagos live in wet tropical rainforests where gum-producing trees are abundant. They seldom leave the cover of the canopy and are nocturnal, so they’re hard to come by. However, predators track them through the scent of their urine.

If you spot one of these primates in Africa, you might be startled to see its head turn 180 degrees! Thanks to this ability, plus their keen eyes and ears, they are excellent at scanning for threats. When chased, Southern Needle-clawed Galagos leap and glide with their limbs outstretched to escape their pursuers.

As their name suggests, these creatures have sharp nails that allow them to grip the limbs of trees. Meanwhile, their fan-shaped front teeth make it easier to extract gum from tree trunks. Females forage in small groups, but males prefer to do so alone.


#34. Western Red Colobus

  • Piliocolobus badius

Also known as the Rust Red Colobus.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45-67 cm (18-26 in) long. Their tails are 52-80 cm (20-31 in) in length.
  • Look for their black brows and reddish beards.
  • Their coats are split between reddish brown colors at the front and smokey gray on the back.

These red daredevils navigate through all canopy levels, swinging from branch to branch with outstanding agility. They thrive in dense rainforests far away from civilization. Often, you’ll find Western Red Colobuses near rivers or streams. Groups are made up of 20-90 members and are noticeably noisy.

Curiously, Western Red Colobuses ignore ripe fruits prized by other monkeys. Instead, they seem to have no problem eating unripe fruits! This is because their multi-chambered stomachs are better suited for digesting fibers instead of sugars. Hence, they prefer foraging for unripe fruit, young shoots, and leaves. 

These are some of the most aggressively territorial monkeys in Africa.

Upon sighting a leopard, a troop member will bellow a long call to rally several males. Together, they’ll try to chase the leopard away from their homes. Chimpanzees are one of the only animals this monkey won’t challenge. Instead, they let out a short, abrupt call, urging the others to climb higher up the canopy to evade them.


#35. White-thighed Colobus

  • Colobus vellerosus

Also known as the Ursone Colobus Monkey.

Credit (left image): Achille G. Eye, (right image): Simon Tonge, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 61-67 cm (24-26 in) in length, with 75-93 cm (30-37 in) white tails.
  • White hair prominently frames their black faces.
  • They have black coats, though their thighs have patches of white hair. The crowns of their heads are black as well.

White-thighed Colobus monkeys in Africa can adapt to many habitats.

They live in savannas, forested swamps, and lowland rainforests. You’ll spot them swinging across branches while their prehensile tails help maintain their balance.

White-thighed Colobuses can sit comfortably on rough branches because they have thick skin on their buttocks! They mostly eat seeds and young leaves, though they also prey on insects. Since their diet doesn’t give them much energy, they spend 70% of their day resting.

White-thighed Colobuses gather in communities of 5-30 individuals. Dominant males regularly infiltrate rival groups to recruit females to their own group. If you hear several of these animals snorting in unison, proceed with caution. This is usually a sign that a predator is lurking nearby!


#36. Yellow Baboon

  • Papio cynocephalus

Also known as the Central Yellow Baboon and Baboon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60-84 cm (24-33 in) long, with tails about the same length.
  • They have black faces and dog-like muzzles. Pale fur covers their cheeks.
  • True to their name, these primates are covered with yellowish coats.

Yellow Baboons frequent open grasslands and lightly wooded savannas. In the daytime, they search for food and socialize with one another. Once night falls, they retreat into the safety of trees or rocky cliffs.

Keep your eyes peeled for a traveling pack of Yellow Baboons! Dominant males lead the group, while females and their children stay in the middle. Less dominant males, in the meantime, guard the rear. These migrations are a sight since their numbers can breach 200!

Life in the Yellow Baboon community is a never-ending struggle to climb up the ranks. Males fight among themselves to vie for the attention of females. Interestingly, male baboons carry babies to placate other males, allowing them to approach without getting attacked.


#37. Chacma Baboon

  • Papio ursinus

Also known as the Cape Baboon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • One of the longest monkeys. Adult bodies are 50 to 115 cm (20 to 45 in), and tails are 45 to 84 cm (18 to 33 in).
  • They are also one of the heaviest monkeys. Adult males average 31.8 kg (70 lb). Females are considerably smaller.
  • Generally dark gray or brown. There is a patch of rough hair on the nape of its neck.
  • Males DO NOT have a mane, unlike baboon species that live farther north in Africa.

Chacma Baboons are one of the most common monkeys in Africa!

You can find them in a wide variety of habitats, including woodland, savanna, steppes, and sub deserts (arid habitats that have just enough rainfall to allow vegetation to grow). They are adaptable and live in both humid and dry environments.

It is rare to find only ONE Chacma Baboon, as this species is very social.  They live in large troops that can number up to 100 individuals. Communication is done via facial expressions, vocalizations, body movements, and touch. Infanticide is more common among these primates than other baboon species, as new dominant males will kill other infants sired by the previous male.

Chacma Baboon Range Map

Chacma Baboon map

Leopards are the main predator of Chacma Baboons. One study showed that they made up 20% of leopard kills! African wild dogs, lions, Spotted hyenas, Nile crocodiles, and African rock pythons also consume these monkeys when given the chance. But male Chacma Baboons are pretty intimidating themselves with large and sharp canine teeth, and they are often able to drive away potential predators. Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about!

At this time, the population of these monkeys is not threatened. But as the human population continues to grow, conflicts with Chacma Baboons continue to increase. Some troops live in close proximity to people and are known to break into cars and homes or overturn garbage cans looking for food. The more these individuals get habituated to people, the more aggressive they become, which has led some frustrated residents to illegally poison and kill these monkeys.

The above video details the issue that Chacma Baboons can cause living nearby humans!


For more information about animals in Africa, check out these guides:


Which of these monkeys in Africa is your favorite?

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