White-thighed Colobus – Extinction Realities

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Common names: Ursine Colobus or White and black Colobus

Scientific name:  Colobus vellerosus (I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1834)

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered listed by IUCN in 2019

Population: less than 1,500 individual (population decreasing) according to Goodwin et al. (2020)

Distribution: Native to Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and western Nigeria


There are two species of black and white Colobus which could be found in West Africa (Gonedelé et al., 2010); Colobus polykomos (Zimmerman, 1780), commonly known as western pied Colobus, and Colobus vellerosus (Gonedelé et al., 2010). Colobus vellerous could be found in the western part of Nigeria.

There were unverified reports of  Colobus vellerous sighting at the old Oyo Park and Opara game reserves in Nigeria by locals and biologist in 2017 as reported by Kazeem (2017) but a survey carried out by Kazeem (2017) in old Oyo Park from December 2015 to January 2016 report no animal, giving rise to the need for a comprehensive survey in this area. The species population is decreasing rapidly, in Cote d’Ivoire, there is a report of the species being extirpated from most protected areas habituated except the Comoe’ national park (Gonedele Bi et al., 2012), Kankam and Sicotte (2013) reported 50% absence of the species in protected areas they once habituated. Togo has small groups of species as reported by Segniagbeto et al. (2017), but the country also faces a decline in the number of species in protected areas, while reports from Benin republic show a total of 21 individuals across the country (Goodwin et al., 2020). The animal used to be protected by locals in some part of Ghana (Boabeng-Fiema and Tafi Atome), and Cote d’Ivoire (Soko, Dinaoudi) for their cultural heritage, unfortunately, locals no longer respect these cultural beliefs (Baker et al., 2009)


They are found in lowland forests, fragmented (Kankam, 1997) swamp forests, and semi-deciduous forests (Goodwin et al., 2020). They spend most of their time on trees but they could travel on the ground (Booth, 1956)


They are mainly folivorous (Saj and Sicotte, 2007), and they also feed on fruits, flowers, seeds, and tree bark (Kankam and Sicotte, 2013 and Djego-Djossou et al. 2015). Moraceae, Leguminosae, and Bombacaceae are the main tree species they feed on, and Albizia coriaria, Aubrevillea kerstingii, Trilepisium madagascariense are the common fruits and seed in their diet (Teichroeb et al., 2003)


They are diurnal and the male is highly territorial, using a roaring call to advertise territory and location (Wikipedia) and they live in troops of 5-10 individuals, which includes a dominant male, several females, and their young ones (Seaworld). They live at the lower branch of the trees (animal diversity) and they help in the dispersal of seeds (sea world).

White and black colobus monkey was rumor to lack thumb, but Zooatlanta report this as false, noting that, the species have thumb but they are really small and provide limited role, while AWF ascribe this as the reason the animal is being referred to as “Colobus”, derived from the Greek word meaning “mutilated” according to AWF


They exhibit a polygynous mating system (animal diversity) and the male reached sexual maturity at the age of 6 and the female at the age of 4, with a gestation period of about 6 months, giving birth to a young one every 20 months (animal diversity). Sexual behavior is usually initiated by the female using tongue smacking (animal diversity)


Treat to this species includes: hunting and habitat loss (McGraw, 2005)


White-thighed Colobus are part of the food chain, that supports the healthy growth of the environment, and helps in seed dispersal of seed. With the abundance of the species, we could be sure of having several plant species in the wild, that Human could not possibly plant, and potentially serving a habitat for biodiversity, conservation of some species of tree that may be vulnerable due to deforestation and illegal or indiscriminate cutting of trees.

A loss of the species will reduce the chance of Trees Sprouting randomly, and if we do nothing to conserve this spp, we are contributing to felling and desertification


Kazeem, A.O. (2017). Conservation Status of Black And White Colobus Monkey (Colobus vellerosus) Geoffrey 1834 in Upper Ogun Region, Southwest Nigeria. Federal University of Technology.

McGraw, W.S. (2005). Update on the search for Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkey. International Journal of Primatology 26: 605-619.

Gonedele Bi, S., Koffi, B.J.C., Bitty, E.A., Kone, I., Akpatou, B. and Zinner, D. (2012). Distribution and conservation status of primates in Cote d’Ivoire (West Africa). Folia Primatologica 83: 11-23.

Kankam, B.O. and Sicotte, P. (2013). The effect of forest fragment characteristics on abundance of Colobus vellerosus in the forest-savanna transition zone of Ghana. Folia Primatologica 84(2): 74-86

Kankam BO (1997). The Population of Black-and-White Colobus (Colobus polykomos) and the Mona Monkeys (Cercopithecus mona) at the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and Surrounding Villages. BSc Thesis, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.

Segniagbeto, H.G., Assoua, D., Koudzo, D., Koda, K.D., Agbessi, E.K.G., Atsri, K.H., Dendid, D.,Luiselli, L., Decher, J. and Mittermeier, R.A. 2017. Survey of the status and distribution of primates in Togo (West Africa). Biodiversity 18(4): 137-150.

Matsuda Goodwin, R., Gonedele Bi, S., Nobime, G., Kone, I., Osei, D., Segniagbeto, G. & Oates, J.F. (2020). Colobus vellerosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T5146A169472127. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T5146A169472127.en

Gonedelé, S.B., Bitty, A.F., Gnangbé, J.C., Bené, I.K., and Zinner, D. (2010). Conservation Status of Geoffroy’s Pied Colobus Monkey Colobus vellerosus Geoffroy 1834 has Dramatically Declined in Côte D’Ivoire, African Primates.7 (1): 19-26

Saj TL, Sicotte P (2007). Predicting the competitive regime of female Colobus vellerosus from the distribution of food resources. International Journal of Primatology 28: 315–336.

Baker, L.R., Adebowale, A.T., Oluseun, S.O. and David, G. (2009). Distribution and abundance of sacred monkeys in igboland, southern Nigeria, American Journal of Primatology. 71:574–586.  

Teichroeb, J.A., Tania, L.S., James, D.P. and Pascale, S. (2003). Effect of Group Size on Activity Budgets of Colobus vellerosus in Ghana, International Journal of Primatology. Vol. 24, No. 4. Booth, C.P (1956). The colobus monkeys of Ghana. African Wildlife 12: 313–318

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