11 April 2008

Kenya: Rare Monkey Species Threatened With Extinction

Nairobi — A rare monkey species, the Tana River Red Colobus, that is only found in Kenya, faces extinction due to encroachment on their habitat by human activities, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources says.

These monkeys are found in the Kenya Wildlife Services' only primate reserve in the country - the Tana River Primate Reserve.

The KWS warden in charge of the reserve, Mr Francis Mbaka, who has confirmed the developments, said human encroachment on the primate reserve that include farming, grazing and logging were the main cause of the declining population of the Tana River Red Colobus monkey.

"We have now embarked on a massive awareness campaign among communities living around the Tana River Primate Reserve on the need to preserve the reserve for posterity," he said.

Primate reserve

Mr Mbaka said human encroachment on the primate reserve had led to its fragmentation, posing a major threat to the Tana River Red Colobus and the Crested Mangabey monkeys.

"The most affected area of the reserve is around the Mchelelo Tented Camp, which is home to the rare monkey species and more than 260 bird species," he said.

Mr Mbaka said 11 square kilometres of the 169 square kilometre reserve that is closed forest has been fragmented into patches, leading to a decline in the population of key monkey species.

The Tana River Red Colobus monkey is among 25 primates which have been included on IUCN's list of endangered species. The world conservation body warns that the primates are in danger of becoming extinct due to unprecedented threat from destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bush meat hunting. Primates from 24 other countries in Africa, Asia and South America are also endangered.

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