The roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway) is species of ‘Old World’ monkey. Its dwindling numbers survive in the geographical region of tropical West Africa. Human activities, have seriously impinged on hopes of the species regaining a flourishing foothold in forests Ivory Coast and Ghana. Roloway monkeys have shown they struggle to adapt quickly to changes in their environment.
This article takes an in-depth look at the Roloway monkey’s genus, appearance, diet, habits, predation, endangered status, and explores if there is hope for this diminutive species.
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Genus: Cercopithecus Roloway
Roloway monkeys, also known as the Roloway guenon, are arboreal (tree living) primates that inhabit the canopy of old forest trees, the deciduous riverine, and the lowland moist forests of West Africa. You will find them for example at Pra River in Ghana and Sassandra River in Cote d’Ivoire. Some Roloway monkeys may be found in swampy areas, (away from humans, whom they avoid ) such as the illegally logged Kwabre Swamp Peat Forest intersecting the Ghana-Ivory Coast border, along the Tano river. Roloway monkeys may also possibly be found also in Togo and Burkina Faso.
The Appearance of the Roloway Monkey
The appearance of the Roloway monkey is similar to that of other species of guenons. Like the Cercopithecus Diana, its face and much of its fur are black but are distinguished by its lengthy beard and broader diadem-like browband.
Roloway monkeys have a lean dark gray body, a patch of brown fur on the back, and red fur on the inner thighs that make them look quite beautiful. They also have creamy beige fur that gracefully frames their faces with a thin line on the forehead, sideburns, and a long pointy white beard that extends to the chin, chest, and upper arms.
Roloways’ thin black faces have noses of downward-pointing elongated nostrils; hazelnut eyes with grayish eyelids; and protruding mouths with sets of strong teeth with sharp canines and convenient cheek pouches used to store food. The male’s canines are often bigger than those of the female, and their skulls are relatively flat looking.
Like humans, Roloway monkeys’ hands have five fingers with fingernails. Their hands and feet have opposable thumbs. But unlike humans, they have a tail that’s longer than the body. The tail is typically 27 inches for females and 45 inches for males. Their limbs are thin and muscular, useful for fast climbing. The average size of an adult male is around 5 kilograms and for females, 4 kilograms.
Roloway monkeys are sexually dimorphic, meaning one sex has unique characteristics (dimorphic explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dimorphism). The Males average 52-61 cm long and 8-15 4–7 kg, but females average 45cm and 4 kg (8.8 pounds).
Diet of Roloway Monkey
Roloway monkeys have adapted to their surroundings. Feeding on fruit, seeds, nectar , flowers, snails, frogs and insects, they are omnivores. According to research, it was discovered that Roloway monkeys could feed on an on plant matter from 130 species. These species include different epiphytes like mosses, lichens, and orchids. In the Bia National Forest, insect feeding peaks in the wet season, whereas fruit pulp and seeds peak in the dry season.
Roloway monkeys like the Diospyros evergreen trees petioles of leaves. They also consume animal matter, which consists of animal feces and remains. The Males eat more fruit than females; females eat more foliage and animal matter because it is highly nutritious, especially when pregnant.
Roloway Monkey’s Offspring
Roloway monkey’s offspring appear black with white fur on the chest, chin, and upper arms. They have thin white stripe on their foreheads, but their sideburns are not grown yet, so their big black ears are exposed. Roloway babies have much bigger eyes than adults, and the beard is threadbare compared with the adults.
Roloway Monkey Lifespan
Roloway monkeys can live up to 30 years in captivity. There is no common ground among naturalists among how long Roloway monkeys lives in the wild. However, due to their vulnerability, they are likely to live longer in captivity than in the wild.
Social Habits of the Roloway Monkey
Roloway monkeys are typically diurnal, meaning they are active in the day and spend the night sleeping high in the canopies. Rollaway monkeys form social groups of 15-30 individuals, mainly with a single male, around 10 females, and their offspring.
While males may change between groups, females are philopatric, meaning they stay with the same group into which they were born. This habit may constrain the recovery of the species in areas where populations have been reduced. Their Females give birth to a young Roloway monkey at a time, after a gestation period of around 5 months.
In the day, they spend most of their time foraging and grooming and stay up in the canopy. The Males are responsible for keeping the group intact and ensure that no individual stays too far apart from the others.
Roloway Monkey Communication
Roloway monkeys communicate with vocalizations such as chuckles, croaks, loud calls; visual cues like gestures; olfactory signals; and body postures. The males typically use a “gathering” call to rally members of the group to stick together.
Grinning, pulling the lips to reveal canines, head bobbing, and yawns are used to threaten another individual or show aggression. They use different predator calls. Some observation studies discover that adult female Roloway monkeys occasionally produce male call variants during events that would typically require a male to respond if the male fails to do so.
Breeding Facts of Roloway Monkey
The females become sexually mature at 4 or 5 years of age, while males mature just about a few years later. The female Roloway monkey’s gestation period is about 5 – 6 months, and they typically give birth to a single baby.
Their breastfeeding period takes up to 180 days. There is yet to be a consensus among researchers about the breeding season or birth interval. They often believe that they may breed year-round and environmental factors, like food availability and weather, are likely to influence their reproduction cycles.
According to field observations, the Roloway monkeys practice polygynous breeding systems like Diana monkeys. One male could mates with several females.
Predation of Roloway Monkey
The Roloway monkey’s conspicuous color makes it easier prey for natural enemies such as crowned eagles, leopards, and chimpanzees. Roloway monkeys and their babies are vulnerable to these predators. In addition, Roloway monkeys are also frequent targets of human hunting for the bushmeat trade.
With the Ghana bushmeat industry generating about £105 million in revenue every year, temptation to hunt is too much for some despite the Forestry Commission regulating hunting. Roloway monkeys meat is still highly sought after.
Fantastic Facts about Roloway Monkeys
- German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber named the Roloway monkey Cercopithecus Diana Roloway in the world mammals encyclopedia published in 1779.
- The Roloway monkey was considered to be a subspecies of the Diana monkey until 2005.
- Roloway Monkeys typically move among tree branches by running along branches. But, some monkey species travel by arm-to-arm swinging.
Roloway Monkeys Endangered Status
The Roloway monkeys are a highly endangered species; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the Roloway monkey as Critically Endangered (IUCN, 2019).
Over 80% of Roloway Monkey population has been lost to uncontrolled hunting for the bushmeat trade (despite prohibition) and loss of its natural habitat to logging and agriculture over the past 30 years (approximately three generations), leading to a considerable population decline. The reason being that it’s a large monkey, and its meat and fur are sought after.
Roloway monkey is at high risk of local extinction at three of the only four sites where it has been reported recently. The causes of the population decline are yet to stop and are not easily reversible without a complete stop on logging and the bushmeat trade. The Roloway monkey is now extirpated from most of its original range, and it seems shockingly less than 300 individuals survive in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana and only monkeys 30 in captivity .
Q & A about Roloway Monkeys
Which order are Roloway Monkeys in?
Roloway monkeys are in the order of ‘primates.’
Which speciesare Roloway monkeys?
The Roloway monkey is one of the 96 Old World monkeys.
How is Roloway monkey as an old–world monkey different from a new world monkey?
As Old World monkeys, the Roloway monkeys possess 32 teeth, whereas New World monkeys usually have 36 teeth. Another significant difference between Old and New World monkeys is the shape of their nostrils. While the former display small, curved, and closely situated nostrils, the latter possess flat noses with rounded nostrils set apart.
What is the Roloway monkey social group called?
A social unit of Roloway monkey is known as a ‘troop.’
Read about the Bia national park here