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The roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway) is a species of Old World monkey found in a small area of eastern Ivory Coast and the forests of Ghana, between the Sassandra and Pra Rivers. Roloway monkeys inhabit canopies in jungles and rainforests spanning much of West Africa including Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Liberia.
The roloway monkey is similar to other species of guenons but is distinguished by its lengthy beard. The closet relative to the roloway monkey is the Diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana), also an arboreal species of guenon named for its crescent-shaped white browband that resembles the bow of the goddess Diana. The Diana monkey is generally found well above the ground in West African rainforests. Its face and much of its fur are black. It has a white beard, chest, and throat; there are a white stripe along each thigh and a deep reddish patch on the back. On the inside of the thighs, the fur is whitish, yellowish, or reddish. The roloway monkey (C. d. roloway) is a subspecies or closely related species with a longer beard and broader diadem (browband). The roloway monkey's coat and face are predominantly black, while the throat and the interior side of its arms are white, and its hips and back are orange. The body length varies between 40 and 55 centimetres and its weight is between 4 and 7 kilograms with its tail being 75 centimetres.
Roloway monkeys consume a diverse array of varying insects, fruit, seeds, and flowers. They can feed on the plant parts of roughly 130 species of trees, climbers, and epiphytes. Like many omnivores, roloway monkeys also consume mature fruit pulp, arthropods, oil-rich seeds- and young leaves. Their food sources usually consist of twigs and small supports in the terminal branches of trees in their infancy and within large woody climbers.
Roloway monkeys dwell in the canopies of jungles and rainforests where they reside and sleep in the branches of primeval trees. They are typically diurnal and sleep throughout the West African nights.
The species is arboreal, and forms social groups of 15 to 30 individuals, typically with 1 male, around 10 females and their children. It is commonplace for the males of groups of roloway monkeys to head off elsewhere on their own, whereas the females will stay with the same group they were born into. This makes it harder for breeding to continue to be as fluent as it was once before, especially given the depreciation of forest areas in Ghana that suits this breed of monkey. They give birth to one monkey at a time, with a period of around 6 months required for each baby to be conceived and then born. The life span of a roloway monkey is may exceed 20 years in the wild, and those in captivity can stay alive for up to 30 years. However, their free roaming spirits and style make them quite unsuitable for captive living.
The roloway monkey is among the most threatened primates on the African continent, although exact figures for the species are not available. Recent surveys could not find evidence of it in Ghana's Bia National Park, where it was probably eliminated between the mid-1970s and 1990. There are estimates are that there probably has been a population decline of at least 80% over the last three generations. Roloway monkeys are hunted by a multitude of predators including crowned hawk-eagles, leopards, chimpanzees and, most notoriously, humans. Humans hunt roloway monkeys and other primate species like them for their bushmeat which is a delicacy in many West African cultures. The main threat facing roloway monkeys is hunting for the bushmeat trade. Over 800 tons of bushmeat is sold in Ghana's markets every year. The roloway monkeys’ conspicuous colours and loud calls make them very susceptible to hunting. Their habitat is also becoming increasingly fragmented due to a decline in forest habitats and deforestation as human settlements expand and farming increases. In the past 100 years, Ghana has lost 80% of its forested lands. The species is listed as one of "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates".
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