Saturday, June 21, 2014

Eastern Black and White Colobus

One of our most fun sightings in Africa occurred on a nature walk we took at the Serena Mountain Lodge on the flanks of Mt. Kenya. We had been out about 30 minutes and our guide and armed escort heard colobus monkeys and took us out in the trees in their direction. First, we got just little glimpses of black and white, high in the tree tops, then as we positioned ourselves better and walked around the trees we were able to get some good views of these beautiful monkeys. They were very well camouflaged and so it is difficult to estimate how many we saw, but it was certainly five or six of them. 
One of my favorite pictures of the trip. Photo by John Mirau.
The eastern black and white colobus has a mostly black body, a u-shaped cape of long white hair which extends from its shoulders and meets across its lower back, 
A better view of the white cape on its back. 
short white hair around its face which resembles a beard, erect black hair on its crown that resembles a cap and a long tail which is black and then ends in a white brush. The head reminded me very much of a stern white bearded imam wearing a black cap. 
A second colobus is to the right, a little more hidden by branches and leaves.
Photo by Judy.
They inhabit forests up to 15,000 feet in elevation. They are found in part of central Africa from eastern Nigeria south to Gabon, on the west side, and over to eastern Ethiopia and south to northern Tanzania, on the east side. There can be as many as 700 colobus monkeys per square mile in the East African highlands, which includes the area where we were. They stay in groups which typically consist of a male, about three females, and four youngsters.  

I had seen colobus monkeys at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City not all that long before our trip to Africa and marveled at how entertaining they were to watch as they did their circus act all over their outdoor cage and made a racket. Seeing them near the Mountain Lodge was one of my first "ah-hah" moments in Africa. 


  1. They remind me of old Russian men with their dour faces and fur caps. It was so fun to see them looking down disapprovingly on our group.

  2. I think they look rather fierce. Is the armed escort to fend off the animals, or are they there for other reasons?

  3. Yes, they are there to protect from buffalo, leopards, etc.