6 Types of Monkeys Found in Zambia! (ID Guide)

What kinds of monkeys live in Zambia?

Types of monkeys in Zambia

If you visit Zambia, 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!

6 monkey species that live in Zambia:


#1. Chimpanzee

  • Pan troglodytes

Also known as Chimps.

Common Zambia 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. Vervet Monkey

  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus

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

Common monkeys found in Zambia

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 Zambia 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.


#3. Blue Monkey

  • Cercopithecus mitis

Also known as the Diademed Monkey.

Monkeys of Zambia

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 Zambia 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.


#4. Mohol Bushbaby

  • Galago moholi

Also known as the Southern Lesser Galago.

Species of monkeys in Zambia

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 Zambia!

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.


#5. 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.


#6. 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 southern Zambia!

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 Zambia, check out these guides:


Which of these monkeys in Zambia is your favorite?

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