National Geographic Photo Ark Spotlight: Colobus Monkey

Multiple entries in the journal kept by National Geographic explorer J. Michael Fay on his 2014-2017 Expedition Through the Heart of Africa refer to sightings of black-and-white colobus in the forests of the Central African Republic. It is yet one more charismatic species found in Africa’s deepest interior that is not very well known in the more industrialized parts of the world. Fortunately, many of the best zoos feature the colobus in exhibits, and the monkey is also well photographed by Joel Sartore for the National Geographic Photo Ark.

Click the logo above to find out more about the National Geographic Photo Ark project, and what you can do to help lynxes and other species survive for future generations.
Click the logo above to find out more about the National Geographic Photo Ark project, and what you can do to help species survive for future generations.

Colobus guereza is assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as a species of Least Concern, essentially meaning that it remains common and somewhat well-protected throughout most of its traditional range in equatorial Africa. It can live in captivity for 30 years or more.

There are six subspecies: C. g. caudatusC. g. dodingaeC. g. kikuyuensisC. g. matschieiC. g. occidentalisC. g. percivali. 

According to the National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, colobus is “A large black monkey with a white mantle, or ornamentation, and a tail tuft. The body is mostly black, with the white mantle extending from the shoulder to the hip, connecting around the lower torso. The tail has a white tuft at its end which is variable in its extent along the length of the tail.” Subspecies are distinguished from one another by color variations in these features. “While primarily arboreal, the species will descend to the ground to feed and to travel in cases were there are not suitable arboreal pathways,” National Primate Research Center says.

Males weigh as much as 30 pounds. Leaves and fruit are the main foods.

Predators include the crowned hawk-eagle and the chimpanzee (watch the National Geographic below).

Additional information
Colobus Conservation
Colobus Monkey (African Wildlife Foundation)
Primate Info Net: Colobus guereza
Chimps Hunting Çolobus (Nat geo video)
National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multi-year project to photograph all species in captivity. The Colobus is one of them. To learn more about the Photo Ark, visit,

Follow the Photo Ark photographer Joel Sartore and the National Geographic Photo Ark on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, and add your voice using #SaveTogether.

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Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn