November Primate of the Month: Red-Capped Mangabey
The red-capped mangabey (Cercocebus torquatus) may go by other names, such as the collared or white-collared mangabey, but there’s certainly no mistaking their distinct crimson caps, fluffy white collars, and bright white eyelids.
Home, Sweet Home
Anatomy and Appearance
Red-cappeds are quite large in the monkey world, with males reaching 26 inches (67 cm) long and up to 25 pounds (11 kg) in weight!
With their tough teeth and strong jaws, these monkeys can crack open the harder shelled nuts that are too thick for nearby guenon monkeys. As with many Old-World monkeys, red-capped mangabeys also have cheek pouches that come in handy for storing snacks to enjoy later.
Language and Communication
The troops are no ninjas! Red-capped mangabeys have earned quite a reputation for being noisy monkeys. Adult males have physiological advantages when it comes to being loud with large throat sacs that amplify their calls – making them audible up to a kilometer away! These calls can be useful for marking territory and announcing his presence to nearby troops.
Motherhood and Community
Unlike other similarly sized primates who give birth during the more verdant months when food is aplenty, red-capped mangabeys don’t have distinct breeding seasons.
Females will give birth to single infants after ~170 days of gestation. Young infants cling to their moms exclusively during their first few months and will stick close to their sides for the first year at least until their mothers have another baby.
Males and females reach sexual maturity between 5-7 years old, at which time males will travel to find a new, unrelated troop, while females stay with their natal group. Unlike many other monkey species, young males do not form bachelor groups but instead will remain alone until they join their new troop.
Threats and Conservation
Due to their size, terrestrial movement patterns, and chatty nature, red-capped mangabeys are easy targets for bushmeat hunters. As their forest shrinks and more humans move into their previous territories, they are more likely to rely on crops and agriculture for food sources – making them more of a target for farmers and hunters.
As endangered species, they are listed in Appendix II of CITES agreement to help mitigate the traffic of individuals both living and deceased. As is often the case, however, local laws for their protection are difficult to create and enforce, making their overall outcome even bleaker.