Mangabey in Nigeria
© Jeff Whitlock

Mangabey is an arboreal (also terrestrial), endothermic, frugivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous, bilaterally symmetrical, social primate found only within approximately 200 km of the Nigerian coast. They are also found in swamp, mangrove, and valley forests, from western Nigeria southward to the east Cameroon through the coast of Equatorial Guinea to Gabon. Of the 4-6 species of Mangabeys in Africa, only the Red-capped mangabey, Cercocebus torquatus torquatus, continue to exist in Nigeria and they are already locally extinct in some isolated patches of swamp forest in the Niger delta, and extremely rare in other areas including Rhoko community forest. This tall monkey may be called Òb? in the Yoruba language.

Mangabeys are much larger primates than guenons, taller and appear more slender (hunters sometimes refer to them as the “one with the thin waist”, as well as “the four-eyed monkey”), with fused buttock pads in the male and conspicuous sexual swellings in the female. Large cheek pouches are constantly used. Powerful teeth and jaws allow them to crack hard shells easily. Males weigh up to 20kg, significantly heavier than females.

Males become sexually mature at between 5 and 7 years of age. Gestation in C. torquatus between 164-175 days, culminating in a single birth. Average lifespan for Mangabeys in the wild is about 30 years.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer