Allochrocebus lhoesti | L'Hoest's Monkey

 

Best spot: Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda,

© Brad Smith 

Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda

Primatology

 

Taxonomy & Occurrence

The L'Hoest's Monkey is a monotypic species of the genus Allochrocebus (a genus commonly referred to as "Mountain Monkeys").

 

L'Hoest's Monkeys are endemic to northern Burundi, eastern portions of Democratic Republic of Congo, south west Rwanda and south west Uganda. They are typically found in moist and high primary forests but also range into lowland forests, wooded savannah, forest borders and cultivated lands [1].

 

IUCN Conservation Status

Vulnerable

 

Listed as Vulnerable due to past and current population declines. The entire range of this species is in a region of intense conflict, which has exacerbated the identified threats and makes it challenging for its conservation. It is expected that these declines will continue in the face of ongoing political climates [1].

Seeing this Species

 

Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda

Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the best spots to see L’Hoest’s Monkeys in the wild. The National Park is in south west Rwanda and protects 1,020 sq km of afro-montane forest ranging in elevation from around 1,600 m to 2,950 m [2]. The steep hills and open forest canopy make for incredible views, which stretch down to Lake Kivu to the west and on a very clear morning the Virunga Volcano chain at the northern edge of Rwanda.

 

L’Hoest’s Monkeys are predominantly black, with a distinctive white chin strap marking and golden/red back hair. They are often seen in small to medium sized groups eating terrestrial herbaceous vegetation along RN6, the paved road that crosses the National Park. A group of well habituated L’Hoest’s Monkeys is also regularly seen at the Uwinka Reception Center, located around halfway through the forest on the RN6. Spending a couple of nights at the Uwinka camp site almost guarantees that you will see this group of L’Hoest’s Monkeys.

 

Nyungwe Forest National Park is managed by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Entry to the park is free, which means visitors are able to drive along the RN6 and stop off at Uwinka Reception Center without paying. However, visitors are required to hire a RDB guide from one of the three Reception Centers (Uwinka, Gisakura and Kitabi) if they wish to walk on one of the many forest trails (USD $50 per person) or track the Rwenzori Angola Colobus (USD $90 per person) or Eastern Chimpanzee (USD $90 per person) (prices from July 2018).

 

Going on a guided walk will improve the chances of seeing the various primate species in the park, as well as offering great vantage points over the forest. Our favourite walk for views and chances of seeing L’Hoest’s Monkeys and other primate species is the Rukuzi Trail, which is a relatively flat trail that crosses a number of fern-covered valleys.

 

The Uwinka camp site is the only accommodation within the National Park. In 2017, the campground was managed by Nyungwe Top View Hotel, who were able to provide a tent on a covered platform, mattresses and thick sleeping bags for around 20,000 RWF (USD $25) per night. Camping fees are USD $30 for 2 people per night but it is worthwhile confirming prices and availability with the hotel prior to arriving at the camp grounds (contact details below). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available at the Uwinka Reception Center kiosk. A number of other accommodation options are available just outside the forest in the small centers of Kitabi and Gisakura. These options range from budget (KCCEM, Kitabi Eco-Center, Gisakura Guesthouse) to 5-star luxury at the Nyungwe Forest Lodge just outside Gisakura.

 

Nights are cold at this altitude (>2,000 m), so bring warm clothes and also wet weather gear during the long (February to May) and short (September to November) wet seasons. Uwinka Reception Center is readily accessible using public transport, with Alpha and Omega coasters travelling along the RN6 from Kigali to Kamembe approximately every hour from 6am to 6pm. Buses run less often and can fill up fast on Sundays and Public Holidays. A hire car is recommended for visitors who want a bit more comfort or who are planning on tracking the Eastern Chimpanzees, as the treks don’t always leave from Uwinka Reception Center.  

 

 

 

 

Other sites:

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Many of the same species, including the L'Hoest's Monkey, are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south west Uganda. This is another well managed national park where L'Hoest's Monkeys are in relative abundance. We saw a group of them along the main road in July 2014.

 

Local contacts: Nyungwe Forest National Park (reservation@rwandatourism.com); Uwinka Camp Site (nyungwetopviewhotel@gmail.com); Alpha bus schedule to/from Uwinka (Fidel +250 783 458 002, +250 782 264 952)

Probability of success: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◇ 

 

Overlapping species: Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to at least 14 other taxa of primates [3]:

  • Schmidt’s Red-tailed Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius schmidti)

  • Owl-faced Monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni)

  • Doggett’s Silver Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis doggetti)

  • Reddish-green Vervet (Chlorocebus pygerythrus rufoviridis)

  • Rwenzori Angola Colobus (Colobus angolensis ruwenzorii)

  • Spectacled Lesser Galago (Galago matschiei) - nocturnal

  • Uganda Lesser Galago (Galago senegalensis sotikae) - nocturnal

  • Demidoff’s Dwarf Galago (Galagoides demidovii) - nocturnal

  • Thomas’s Dwarf Galago (Galagoides thomasi) - nocturnal

  • Johnston’s Grey-cheeked Mangabey (Lophocebus albigena johnstoni)

  • Miombo Silver Galago (Otolemur crassicaudatus) - nocturnal

  • Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii)

  • Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)

  • Eastern Potto (Perodicticus ibeanus ibeanus) - nocturnal

 

Of these species, the Doggett's Silver Monkey, Johnston's Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Rwenzori Angola Colobus and Eastern Chimpanzee are readily seen in the main part of the park around the Uwinka Reception Center.

Trekking in with our guides

© Brad Smith

L'Hoest's Monkeys feeding by the road side

© Brad Smith

References

[1] Hart J., Butynski T.M. and Hall J. 2016.  Allochrocebus lhoesti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

[2] Gross‐Camp N.D., Masozera M. and Kaplin B.A. 2009. Chimpanzee seed dispersal quantity in a tropical montane forest of Rwanda. American Journal of Primatology 71: 901-911.

[3] De Jong Y.A. and Butynski T.M. 2012. The primates of East Africa: country lists and conservation priorities. African Primates 7(2): 135-155.

 

Contributed by Brad Smith and Samantha Green

Page Last Updated: 26 November 2018

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