What kinds of monkeys live in Kenya?
If you visit Kenya, 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!
10 monkey species that live in Kenya:
#1. Olive Baboon
- Papio anubis
Also known as the Anubis Baboon.
- 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 Kenya!
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. Mantled Guereza
- Colobus guereza
Also known as the Eastern Black-and-white Colobus and Omo River Guereza.
- 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 Kenya. 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.
#3. Red-tailed Monkey
- Cercopithecus ascanius
Also known as the Red-tailed Guenon or Schmidt’s Guenon.
- 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 Kenya 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.
#4. Vervet Monkey
- Chlorocebus pygerythrus
Also known as the Vervet, Common Vervet, Desert Tumbuli, or Yellow Monkey.
- 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 Kenya 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.
#5. Blue Monkey
- Cercopithecus mitis
Also known as the Diademed Monkey.
- 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 Kenya 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.
#6. Patas Monkey
- Erythrocebus patas
Also known as the Wadi Monkey or Hussar Monkey.
- 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 Kenya 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.
#7. Angola Colobus
- Colobus angolensis
Also known as the Angolan Black-and-white Colobus.
- 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 Kenya! 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.
#8. Senegal Bushbaby
- Galago senegalensis
Also known as the Northern Lesser Galago.
- 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 Kenya!
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.
- Check out our LIVE bird camera from Kenya HERE! At night it’s common to see bushbabies visiting the feeder. 🙂
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.
#9. Small-eared Greater Galago
- Otolemur garnettii
Also known as the Northern Greater Galago and Garnett’s Bushbaby.
- 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.
#10. Yellow Baboon
- Papio cynocephalus
Also known as the Central Yellow Baboon and Baboon.
- 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.
For more information about animals in Kenya, check out these guides:
Which of these monkeys in Kenya is your favorite?
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