9 Types of Monkeys Found in Sierra Leone! (ID Guide)

What kinds of monkeys live in Sierra Leone?

Types of monkeys in Sierra Leone

If you visit Sierra Leone, 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!

9 monkey species that live in Sierra Leone:

#1. Chimpanzee

  • Pan troglodytes

Also known as Chimps.

Common Sierra Leone monkeys

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.

#2. Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey

  • Cercopithecus petaurista

Also known as the Lesser White-nosed Guenon.

Common monkeys found in Sierra Leone

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 Sierra Leone. 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.

#3. Olive Colobus

  • Procolobus verus

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

Monkeys of Sierra Leone
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 Sierra Leone!

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!

#4. Green Monkey

  • Chlorocebus sabaeus

Also known as Sabaeus Monkey.

Species of monkeys in Sierra Leone

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 Sierra Leone, 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.

#5. 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.

#6. 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 Sierra Leone 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.

#7. 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 Sierra Leone 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.

#8. 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 Sierra Leone, 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.

#9. 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 Sierra Leone.

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.

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

Which of these monkeys in Sierra Leone is your favorite?

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