Procolobus verus is found on the western coast of Africa, from Sierra Leone to Tongo. There is also an isolated population in eastern Nigeria.
(Burton and Pearson, 1988; Oates and Whitesides, 1990; Flannery, 2000; Nowak, 1997)
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
- Burton, J., B. Pearson. 1988. The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals fo the World. Lexington, Massachusetts: The Stephen Greene Press.
- Oates, J., G. Whitesides. 1990. Association between Olive Colobus, *Procolobus verus*, Diana guenons, *Cercopithecus diana*, and other Forest Monkeys in Sierra Leone.. American Journal of Primatology, 21/2: 129-146.
- Flannery, S. 2000. Accessed September 23, 2001 at www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/factsheets/procolobus_verus.html.
- Nowak, R. 1997. "Walker's Mammals of the World/Olive Colobus Monkey" (On-line). Accessed November 12, 2001 at www.press.jhu.edu/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/primates/primates.cercopithecidae.procolobus.html.
Procolobus verus is the smallest and the most drab colored of all African colobus monkeys, bearing olive colored hair with a tinge of brown on top and grayish underparts. Weights range from 2 to 4.5 kg, and body lengths of 90 to 430 mm are reported. Procolobus verus has a similar body structure to black and white colobus monkeys, but olive colobus monkeys have a small crest on top of the head and the most reduced thumb and largest feet of any colobine. Males are equal in size to females with relatively larger canines than females.
Procolobus verus possesses six cusps on the lower third molars.
(Burton and Pearson, 1988; Nowak, 1997)
Range mass: 2.2 to 4.5 kg.
Range length: 90 to 430 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Habitat and Ecology
Niger Coastal Delta Habitat
The Niger Coastal Delta is an enormous classic distributary system located in West Africa, which stretches more than 300 kilometres wide and serves to capture most of the heavy silt load carried by the Niger River. The peak discharge at the mouth is around 21,800 cubic metres per second in mid-October. The Niger Delta coastal region is arguably the wettest place in Africa with an annual rainfall of over 4000 millimetres. Vertebrate species richness is relatively high in the Niger Delta, although vertebrate endemism is quite low. The Niger Delta swamp forests occupy the entire upper coastal delta. Historically the most important timber species of the inner delta was the Abura (Fleroya ledermannii), a Vulnerable swamp-loving West African tree, which has been reduced below populations viable for timber harvesting in the Niger Delta due to recent over-harvesting of this species as well as general habitat destruction of the delta due to the expanding human population here. Other plants prominent in the inner delta flood forest are: the Azobe tree (Lophira alata), the Okhuen tree (Ricinodendron heudelotii ), the Bitter Bark Tree (Sacoglottis gabonensis), the Rough-barked Flat-top Tree (Albizia adianthifolia), and Pycnanthus angolensis. Also present in its native range is the African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis)
There are a number of notable mammals present in the inner coastal delta, including the Near Threatened Olive Colobus (Procolobus verus) that is restricted to coastal forests of West Africa and is found here in the inner coastal Niger Delta. Also found here is the restricted distribution Mona Monkey (Cercopithecus mona), a primate often associated with rivers. Also occurring here is the limited range Black Duiker (Cephalophus niger), a near-endemic to the Niger River Basin. In addition, the Endangered Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is found in the Niger Delta. The near-endemic White-cheeked Guenon (Cercopithecus erythrogaster, VU) is found in the inner delta. The Critically Endangered Niger Delta Red Colubus (Procolobus pennantii ssp. epieni), which primate is endemic to the Niger Delta is also found in the inner delta.
Some of the reptiles found in the upper coastal Niger Delta are the African Banded Snake (Chamaelycus fasciatus); the West African Dwarf Crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis, VU); the African Slender-snouted Crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus); the Benin Agama (Agama gracilimembris); the Owen's Chameleon (Chamaeleo oweni); the limited range Marsh Snake (Natriciteres fuliginoides); the rather widely distributed Black-line Green Snake (Hapsidophrys lineatus); Cross's Beaked Snake (Rhinotyphlops crossii), an endemic to the Niger Basin as a whole; Morquard's File Snake (Mehelya guirali); the Dull Purple-glossed Snake (Amblyodipsas unicolor); the Rhinoceros Viper (Bitis nasicornis). In addition several of the reptiles found in the outer delta are found within this inner delta area.
Five threatened marine turtle species are found in the mangroves of the lower coastal delta: Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea, EN), Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta, EN), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea, EN), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata, CR), and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas, EN).
Other reptiles found in the outer NIger Delta are the Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), African Softshell Turtle (Trionyx triunguis), African Rock Python (Python sebae), Boomslang Snake (Dispholidus typus), Cabinda Lidless Skink (Panaspis cabindae), Neon Blue Tailed Tree Lizard (Holaspis guentheri), Fischer's Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus fischeri), Richardson's Leaf-Toed Gecko (Hemidactylus richardsonii), Spotted Night Adder (Causus maculatus), Tholloni's African Water Snake (Grayia tholloni), Smith's African Water Snake (Grayia smythii), Small-eyed File Snake (Mehelya stenophthalmus), Western Forest File Snake (Mehelya poensis), Western Crowned Snake (Meizodon coronatus), Western Green Snake (Philothamnus irregularis), Variable Green Snake (Philothamnus heterodermus), Slender Burrowing Asp (Atractaspis aterrima), Forest Cobra (Naja melanoleuca), Rough-scaled Bush Viper (Atheris squamigera), and Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus).
There are a limited number of amphibians in the inner coastal delta including the Marble-legged Frog (Hylarana galamensis). At the extreme eastern edge of the upper delta is a part of the lower Niger and Cross River watersheds that drains the Cross-Sanaka Bioko coastal forests, where the near endemic anuran Cameroon Slippery Frog (Conraua robusta) occurs.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2013. ''Niger River''. Encyclopedia of Earth, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC ed. M. McGinley
Olive colobus monkeys are arboreal and are restricted to rainforest habitat. They prefer the dense understory of the forest, often near water. Procolobus verus sometimes travels into the middle canopy to sleep, but never ventures to the upper stratum.
(Burton and Pearson, 1988; Flannery, 2000; Nowak, 1997)
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest
Procolobus verus forage in understory and middle canopy of the forest, feeding mainly on young leaves. These monkeys are highly selective feeder, but seasonally they will also eat seeds, flowers, and petioles. When young foliage is available, they ignore mature leaves. Procolobus verus has a sacculated stomach to assist in the breakdown of cellulose in its primarily folivorous diet.
(Flannery, 2000; Oates, 1988)
Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; flowers
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
- Oates, J. 1988. The diet of the olive colobus monkey, *Procolobus verus*, in Sierra Leone. International Journal of Primatology, 9/5: 457-478.
The ecosystem role of these animals is not well understood. We may assume that to the extent that other animals prey upon these monkeys, they serve as a control on predator populations. They may also help to disperse seeds.
Procolobus verus is the most accomplished leaper in the Tai Forest, where it commonly lives. This capability of P. verus allows it to avoid predators that share this habitat. It also frequently groups with Diana monkeys to avoid predation. Procolobus verus is hunted by humans for its meat and skin.
(Noe and Bshary)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Communication and Perception
Communication in these monkeys is not well described. However, we may assume that they are like other primates, and use various means of communication. Included in these are visual signals, such as facial expressions and body postures, vocalizations, and tactile communication, including grooming, playing, and aggression.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic
The lifespan of these animals has not been reported, but other leaf eating monkeys rarely live in excess of 30 years in captivity. It is likely that P. verus is similar.
Status: wild: 20 years.
Status: captivity: 29 years.
These colobines are reported to be polygynous.
Mating System: polygynous
Olive colobus monkeys have a gestation period of 5 to 6 months, with no specific breeding season. Females reproduce about every two years and usually bear only one young at a time. Females reach sexual maturity around 3 to 4 years old, males around 5 to 6 years old. Female P. verus have perineal organs that swell during estrus.
Breeding interval: Females can produce young once every 2 years.
Breeding season: Breeding in this species occurs throughout the year.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 5 to 6 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 to 4 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 5 to 6 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous
Female P. verus carry their young around in their mouths for a few weeks after birth, a behavior not observed in Colobus species. As the young matures, it is carried on the abdomen of the mother. Mothers provide milk, grooming and protection for the young. The role of males in care of infants has not been reported.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); extended period of juvenile learning
- Flannery, S. 2000. Accessed September 23, 2001 at www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/factsheets/procolobus_verus.html.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Procolobus verus
There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen. Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Procolobus verus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Rare(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Rare(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Although this species is not of special conservation concern, all primates are listed as CITES appendix II because they are vulnerable to habitat loss.
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse effects of P. verus on humans. However, as primates, they may carry some of the same disease organisms which affect people.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Procoloby verus is hunted by humans for food.
Positive Impacts: food
The olive colobus monkey (Procolobus verus), also known as the Green colobus or Van Beneden's colobus, is a species of primate in the Cercopithecidae family. Its English name refers to its dull olive upperparts. It is the smallest example of all colobine monkeys and is rarely observed in its natural habitat because of its cryptic coloration and secretive nature. It is found in the rain forests of West Africa, ranging from southern Sierra Leone to Nigeria. The olive colobus is classified as near threatened by the IUCN Red List, the cause of its decline attributed to habitat loss and hunting. Though much of the land within the range of the olive colobus has been affected by human activities, it retains its ability to thrive in small degraded forest fragments.
Procolobus verus is a small-bodied mammal with an average body weight of 4.6 kilograms for males and 4.1 kilograms for females. The olive colobus are greenish-brown in color with the hairs transitioning from greenish-yellow at the root, and becoming darker towards the tip. The under side of the olive colobus is lighter in color and the hairs found on the face are stiff and dark. Their coloration allows them to stay camouflaged within the trees reducing the risk of predation. These monkeys have a unique feature in that their thumb is severely reduced on their forefeet, while the hindfeet retain five digits. The feet of the olive colobus are also abnormally large compared to other African colobine species.
The natural habitat of the olive colobus includes second growth within tall forests, palm forests and swamps, where they feed in the lower and middle vegetation strata. The olive colobus is mainly folivorous, although it may consume fruits and seeds when available. The diet consists primarily of young leaves, and they tend to avoid mature leaf parts altogether. This is related to the fact that it is a forestomach fermenter with a small body size, which requires it to obtain a very high quality diet. The fact that olive colobus monkeys utilize this type of fermentation also relates to their lack of fruit consumption because things such as fruits that contain high levels of acid can lower the pH of the stomach causing negative and sometimes lethal effects on microorganisms living within the stomach.
The olive colobus monkey is a very cryptic and shy animal, which can make the observation and understanding of its behavior difficult. What is known about interactions between olive colobus monkeys and other related species shows that their social structure is very complex. Olive colobus monkeys are found in small groups containing multiple breeding males, several females, and their infants. Though found in groups of only a few individuals, olive colobus monkeys are almost always seen in association with other Cercopithecus monkeys, particularly the Diana monkey. There have been many suggestions as to how this relationship benefits the olive colobus, such as reducing the risk of predation. A piece of evidence that gives support to this idea is the willingness of the olive colobus to travel to higher altitudes in the tree tops to feed when other species are nearby.
In addition to serving as a means of predator avoidance, the close association with Diana monkeys is a mechanism used by male olive colobus monkeys to obtain new female mates. The olive colobus mating system is unique in that unlike many species living in small groups, there is no evidence of male monopolization over females. It has been proposed that females use aspects of their reproductive biology(long receptive periods, promiscuous mating, and mating overlap among females) along with mating behaviors to limit the monopolization of males in a group. Benefits to the avoidance of male monopolization include direct or indirect female mate choice, decreasing the risk of infanticide, and increased paternal care for offspring.
The olive colobus monkey is very susceptible to habitat loss due to increased enroachment of hunters and farmers on both protected and unprotected lands. In order to ensure that this threatened species is protected, the olive colobus has been listed under Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and as a Class A species under the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, which monitor the international trade of species and their status in the environment. The olive colobus is also covered in many protected areas including Taï National Park on the Ivory Coast of West Africa, which was declared a Forest and Wildlife Refuge in 1926 and accepted as a biosphere reserve in 1982. The park has a total area of 330,000 hectares, plus a 20,000-hectare buffer zone, where new plantations and settlement are prohibited.
Though efforts have been established in order to protect the olive colobus monkey and its habitat, illegal farming and hunting are still a fundamental threat to this species' survival. To ensure that the olive colobus will thrive in the future, stricter enforcement of laws and regulations should be implemented, as well as the development of educational and public awareness plans. The olive colobus will also benefit from further study and observation.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 169, 172–173. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Oates, J. F., Gippoliti, S. & Groves, C. P. (2008). Procolobus verus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Kingdon, J. (1997). The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London. ISBN 0-12-408355-2.
- Oates, J.F.(1988). "The Diet of the Olive Colobus Monkey, Procolobus verus, in Sierra Leone." International Journal of Primatology,9(5),457-478.
- Oates, J.F.,Gippoliti, S. & Groves, C.P. 2008. Procolobus verus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 8 December 2011.
- Osman Hill, W.C. (1952). "The External and Visceral Anatomy of the Olive Colobus Monkey (Procolobus verus)." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 122 (1), 127-186.
- McGraw, W.S., & Zuberbühler, K. The Monkeys of the Taï Forest: an Inroduction. McGraw, W.S., Zuberbühler, K., & Nöe, R. (Eds.) (2007). Monkeys of the Taï Forest: an African Primate Community. Cambridge University Press.
- Davies, A.G., Oates, J. F., & Dasilva, G.L. (1999). "Patterns of Frugivory in Three West African Colobine Monkeys." International Journal of Primatology, 20 (3), 327-357.
- Korstjens, A.H. & Nöe, R. (2004)."Mating System of an Exceptional Primate, the Olive Colobus (Procolobus verus)."American Journal of Primatology, 62: 261-273.
- "Taï National Park." UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2011-11-7
- McGinley, Mark. "Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire." The Encyclopedia of Earth. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 2011-11-7