African Monkey Species: A Comprehensive Guide to the Unique Primates of Africa

African monkeys are a diverse group of primates that inhabit the forests, savannas, and mountains of Africa. They belong to the family Cercopithecidae, which is one of the largest families of primates and includes over 140 species. African monkeys come in different sizes, colors, and shapes, ranging from the tiny dwarf galago to the large baboon. They are highly intelligent animals, with complex social behaviors and communication systems. African monkeys have adapted to various environments and have a wide range of diets, including fruits, leaves, insects, and even small animals. Unfortunately, many species of African monkeys are endangered due to habitat destruction, hunting, and the illegal pet trade. Studying and conserving these fascinating creatures is crucial for the health of the African ecosystem and the well-being of human societies that rely on them for food, medicine, and cultural significance.

African Monkeys

Find types of monkeys in Africa

Olive Baboon

The Olive baboon, or Papio anubis, is one of the most widespread and well-known species of African monkeys. They are found throughout much of the continent, from the savannas of East Africa to the rainforests of West Africa. Olive baboons are highly social animals, living in large troops of up to 150 individuals. These troops are typically led by a dominant male, who is responsible for protecting the group and mating with the females.

Olive baboons are easily recognizable by their distinctive appearance, with their olive-brown fur and hairless faces. They have long, powerful limbs and a sturdy build, making them excellent climbers and runners. Olive baboons are omnivores, feeding on a variety of foods including fruits, seeds, insects, and small mammals.

In addition to their impressive physical abilities, Olive baboons are also highly intelligent and have complex social behaviors. They communicate with a variety of vocalizations, including grunts, barks, and screams, and also use body language to convey their intentions and emotions. They are known to form close bonds with their troop mates, and even engage in grooming behaviors to strengthen these relationships.

Despite their adaptability and resilience, Olive baboons face many threats in the wild. Habitat destruction, hunting, and the illegal pet trade have all contributed to declining populations of this species. Conservation efforts are underway to protect Olive baboons and their habitats, including the establishment of protected areas and education programs to raise awareness about the importance of these iconic African monkeys.

Samango Monkey

The Samango monkey, also referred to as the white-throated monkey, is a primate species that inhabits the forests spanning from Ethiopia to South Africa. These monkeys adopt a harem social structure in which a dominant male presides over a group of females and their offspring. Their diet is diverse and consists of insects, fruits, flowers, and leaves, enabling them to thrive in their natural habitats.

Black And White Colobus Monkey

The Black and White Colobus Monkey, or Colobus guereza, is a species of Old World monkey that inhabits the forests of Central and East Africa. They are easily recognizable by their distinctive black and white fur, with a black body and face and a flowing white mantle of long hair.

These monkeys are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their lives in trees, and have a specialized digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from leaves. They are also known for their unique social structure, with females forming strong bonds with each other and males having limited interaction with the group. Females will typically give birth to one offspring at a time, which they care for and carry on their belly for the first few months of life.

Unfortunately, the Black and White Colobus Monkey is facing many threats in the wild. Habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal pet trade have all contributed to declining populations of this species. However, conservation efforts are underway to protect these beautiful and fascinating primates, including the establishment of protected areas and education programs to raise awareness about their plight.

Overall, the Black and White Colobus Monkey is an important part of the African ecosystem and a valuable subject of study for scientists interested in primate behavior, social structure, and conservation biology.


Mandrills, a species of elusive monkeys, can only be found residing in the rainforests of equatorial Africa. Due to their physical appearance, they are commonly mistaken for baboons, which is not surprising considering they were previously classified as such. They are distinguishable by their striking blue and red faces and rear ends.

Golden Monkey

The golden monkey, a primate species characterized by its distinctive golden fur, is facing a critical endangerment status. It can only be found in the Virunga volcanic mountains, which span across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These primates typically move in troops of up to 60 individuals and favor bamboo forests situated in higher elevations where they can feast on bamboo shoots and ripe fruits.

Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey

The Zanzibar red colobus, a distinct species of colobus monkey, is exclusively found on multiple islands within the Zanzibar Archipelago situated off the coast of Tanzania. These monkeys are of moderate size and are herbivorous, with leaves making up the majority of their diet. To eliminate toxins acquired from their diet, they consume charcoal obtained from tree stumps and logs, a behavior that mothers impart to their offspring.

Hamlyn’s Monkey

Hamlyn’s Monkey, also known as the Owl-faced Monkey or the Lesula, is a rare and recently discovered species of African monkey that was first identified in 2007. They are native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they inhabit the dense rainforests of the Lomami Basin.

Hamlyn’s Monkeys are medium-sized primates with a unique appearance. They have a distinctive “owl-like” face with large, round eyes, a flat nose, and an expressive mouth. Their fur is predominantly brown or black, with a light-colored band of hair on their forehead.

These monkeys are social animals, living in small groups led by a dominant male. They feed on a variety of fruits, leaves, and insects found in the rainforest, and are known for their acrobatic abilities, often leaping from tree to tree with ease.

Unfortunately, Hamlyn’s Monkey is facing many threats in the wild. Habitat loss and hunting have contributed to declining populations, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified them as Endangered. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these unique primates, including the establishment of protected areas and community education programs.

Overall, Hamlyn’s Monkey is a fascinating species that has captured the attention of primatologists and animal lovers around the world. Its discovery serves as a reminder of the vast diversity of life still waiting to be explored in the African rainforest.

Blue Monkey

The Blue Monkey, also referred to as the Diademed Monkey because of the light-colored hair across its forehead, is not blue as the name suggests but rather has a speckled grey appearance. They can be found across Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa, with a preference for habitats that are humid and shady, such as evergreen and bamboo forests.

Vervet Monkey

Vervet monkeys are a highly adaptable species that can be found residing in both rural and urban environments throughout Southern and East Africa. While their natural habitat is typically savanna, woodlands, and mountains reaching heights up to 4,000 meters, they have managed to thrive in a wide range of environments.

One of the defining characteristics of Vervet monkeys is their social structure. They live in groups of between 10 and 50 individuals, with strict social hierarchies established within the group. Typically, there is one dominant male, several females, and their offspring. The dominant male is responsible for protecting the group and ensuring their safety.

Vervet monkeys are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will consume a wide variety of foods depending on what is available to them. Their diet primarily consists of fruits, leaves, flowers, and insects. They are known to cause some damage to crops, particularly in areas where they are prevalent, but they play an important role in their ecosystem as seed dispersers.

While Vervet monkeys have adapted well to living in human-dominated environments, they are still at risk due to habitat loss and hunting. In some areas, they are considered a pest and are culled as a result. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this species, including establishing protected areas and increasing public education about their importance in the ecosystem.

Overall, Vervet monkeys are a fascinating and resilient species that have learned to adapt to changing environments. Their unique social structure and opportunistic feeding habits make them an important species in the African ecosystem.

De Brazza’s Monkey

De Brazza’s monkey, also known as the swamp monkey, is a species of monkey native to the forests and swamps of Central Africa. They are named after Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, a French-Italian explorer who discovered them in the late 19th century.

These monkeys are medium-sized, with distinctive orange-brown fur on their backs and white or grey fur on their bellies. They also have a white beard and a crescent-shaped crown of hair on their heads. Their coloring is excellent camouflage for their natural habitats of dense forests and swamps.

De Brazza’s monkeys are primarily arboreal, spending most of their time in the trees. They are social animals and live in groups of up to 10 individuals, consisting of a dominant male, several females, and their offspring. Within the group, there is a strict hierarchy that determines the order in which food is shared and mates are chosen.

Their diet is mainly composed of fruits, leaves, and insects, although they have been known to eat small animals such as birds and reptiles as well. They are unique among primates in that they have a specialized stomach that allows them to ferment their food, similar to cows.

Despite being relatively common in some areas, De Brazza’s monkeys are still threatened by habitat loss and hunting for bushmeat. They are also captured and sold as pets or used for traditional medicine in some parts of Africa.

Efforts to protect this species include the establishment of protected areas and conservation education programs aimed at reducing the demand for bushmeat and the pet trade. With continued conservation efforts, it is hoped that De Brazza’s monkey can continue to thrive in its natural habitat for generations to come.