Temminck's Red Colobus
(Procolobus badius temminckii
) Image taken in Abuko Forest in The Gambia. This large arboreal leaf-eating primate is a subspecies of Western Red Colobus
. Of the three Western Red Colobus
subspecies this and the nominate subspecies are now classified as endangered (IUCN 3.1) whilst the third -Miss Waldron's Red Colobus
is critically endangered and may now be extinct. Western Red Colobus
are often hunted by Chimpanzees and by Humans (bush-meat). In 1994 many chimps were fatally infected with the deadly Ebola virus contracted from their Western Red Colobus
prey and given that chimps and humans share over 96% of their DNA there is a clear risk to humans. There has been a huge explosion in the bushmeat trade in recent years -which includes small antelope and various primates including both the African Great Apes. Independent of the ecological calamity that this is creating there is a real threat that wild non-human primate-based viral diseases will jump the species barrier resulting in new life-threatening human diseases. Indeed many researchers now believe that the inter-species transfer of a Simian immunodeficiency retrovirus from infected monkeys to humans via bushmeat followed by the subsequent mutation of the virus, is probably what created the Human Immunodeficiency Virus -the cause of AIDS, which is now killing so many poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa.