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Show us your savanna monkeys - vervet, grivet, tantalus, green and Bale monkeys


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The taxonomy of savanna monkeys is a little complicated, originally, they were placed in the genus Cercopithecus and regarded by some, as just a single species C. aethiops with a number of subspecies, now they have been given their own genus Chlorocebus which essentially means green monkey and have been divided into five or six species. Interestingly the Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals divides them into five while the Mammals of Africa divides them into six.

The six species with subspecies are as follows


Vervet monkey Chlorocebus pygerythrus

Manda vervet  C. p. excubitor

Hilgert’s vervet C. p. hilgerti

Pemba vervet C. p. nesiotes

Southern vervet C. p. pygerythus

Reddish-green vervet C. p. rufoviridis


Malbrouck’s monkey Chlorocebus cynosuros


Grivet monkey Chlorocebus aethiops


Bale monkey Chlorocebus djamdjamensis


Tantalus monkey Chlorocebus tantalus

Common tantalus C. t. tantalus

Budgett’s tantalus C. t. budgetti

Jebel Marra tantalus C. t. marrensis


Green or Callithrix monkey Chlorocebus sabaeus


Kingdon in his field guide treats Malbrouck’s monkey as a subspecies of the vervet


If you have any photos or videos of these monkeys post them here, if you know the subspecies great, if you don’t post anyway, any photos or videos of related Cercopithecus guenon species please post them in this thread Show us your long-tailed monkeys or guenons (Cercopithecus species)

Edited by inyathi
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Some southern vervets (Chlorocebus pygerythrus pygerythrus) photographed on the rocks in the Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe.



Southern vervet monkeys, Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe by inyathi, on Flickr















Edited by inyathi
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Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

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@Wildship Nice, that should be Budgett’s tantalus monkey in QENP, I will add a few of my tantalus photos in due course.


To the layman the difference between the various species may not be that obvious, never mind the differences between vervet subspecies, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the different vervet subspecies until now and also wasn’t really sure where the boundaries between the different savanna monkey species are, until I started this thread. I have now I think, worked out all of the subspecies in my photos, but this is based on geography, I know which subspecies I’m looking at purely because of where the photos were taken rather than going by what they they look like, however, perhaps as a result of starting this thread, I will see some of the differences between them.


 The southern vervet pictured in Post 2 ranges from South Africa up to the Zambezi, it is then replaced by the reddish-green vervet monkey that ranges from the Zambezi up into central Tanzania and then up the west side of Tanzania to Burundi and Rwanda and possibly as far Lake Mburo NP in Uganda or at least the Tanzania/Uganda border.


Here’s the vervet range map.


According to this taxonomy Malbrouck’s is treated as a different species, it occurs in the far north of Namibia, Angola, most of Zambia and the southern DRC, I have undoubtedly seen Malbrouck’s monkey in Zambia, in Kafue I would think and possibly in the Zambezi region of Namibia, but I don’t appear to have any photos, however, I expect I should see these monkeys when I go to Zambia in November with @offshorebirder, so I’ll try to get some photos then, maybe one of us can then add some shots if we get some, if no one else adds any in the meanwhile.


Malbrouck’s monkey range map   



Some reddish-green vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus rufoviridis)



Reddish-green vervet monkeys, Katavi National Park, Tanzania by inyathi, on Flickr





Katavi National Park









Ruaha National Park, Tanzania by inyathi, on Flickr




With bush hyrax, Ruaha River Lodge in Tanzania

Edited by inyathi
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Thanks for the concentrated dose of Vervet information @inyathi.


The IUCN web page for the genus Chlorocebus (that has clickable species accounts) is here:    https://www.iucnredlist.org/search?taxonomies=128952&searchType=species


What they refer to as Tantalus Monkey has me wondering if the "Black-faced Vervets" I saw in Kakamega Forest, Kenya might have been Tantalus Monkeys?  I don't recall getting any photos, but I will check the old archives to see if I got some poor ones I never post-processed.





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@offshorebirder Thanks for the link to that IUCN Red List page, I think having said that I was going on geography that maybe it’s not always that simple, in that one shouldn’t rely too much on the maps, the IUCN map would suggest that the monkeys in Kakamega are tantalus and the map in Mammals of Africa is clearly based on the same map. However, there is clearly an overlap in range between these different monkeys and thus there are hybrid zones as it says in MOA, I’m therefore guessing that there must be hybrids between Budgett’s tantalus and Hilgert’s vervet in Western Kenya, I can only say that based on the distribution map then they should be tantalus, but I don’t know for sure, so you’d have to judge it based on appearance if that is you do have any photos. I don’t know how you determine whether distribution maps are accurate or not, the map for tantalus shows this monkey just occurring in Mali at the western end of its range, yet when you scroll down and look at the Geographic Range, Mali is not listed, this may just be mistake and Mali just got left off the list, since Mali is mentioned in MOA. I have though found the same issue with maps a few times, where a species is shown just crossing the border into a small area of another country, that then that country isn’t listed, so I’m never quite sure if it’s the map that is wrong or the range description that is wrong.


Range map    


I have actually only got one shot of Budgett’s tantalus taken in Uganda to add, this mum and infant was the only one I seemed to have photographed and this was the best photo I took of them.



Budgett's tantalus monkey and baby in a fig tree, Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Uganda


This is perhaps an indication that after you been on many safaris you don't pay as much attention to these monkeys as other animals and don't stop for them or maybe I didn't actually see as many as I assume I must have. 


 I’ve also got shots from Zakouma I am assuming that the monkeys in the park are also Budgett’s tantalus the common tantalus does also occur in Chad, but I’m guessing that the dividing line is somewhere in the middle of Chad. I know that the patas monkeys in Zakouma are eastern patas the same as those in northern Uganda and those in western Chad are western patas, so it seem logical to me that the dividing line between these two tantalus subspecies is in the same area of Chad, that the middle of Chad is a bit of a dividing line between East and West.  MOA giving the range for these two subspecies, just lists southern Chad for both, this maybe suggests that they weren’t sure where the dividing line is, as they’re the same species and presumably there’s a hybrid zone in the middle of Chad I don’t suppose it matters, I just find it interesting.


These photos are all from my first visit to Zakouma, I don't recall seeing them well enough on my second visit to merit photographing them.



Budgett's? tantalus monkey at Campement de Tinga in Zakouma National Park in Chad by inyathi, on Flickr







Startled, bushbuck and tantalus monkey 

Edited by inyathi
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Unfortunately it turns out I did not get any Vervet/Tantalus photos from Kakamega or Kisumu - though we saw them.



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I have been unsure of which vervets I have been photographing so it is nice to see some interest in this complex.
Here are a couple of Tantalus(?) Monkeys from QENP, Uganda. I have seen what I assume to be the same troop on the sides of the road at the northern exit of the park each time I go there. Within Uganda, I have also seen them in  Ziwa, Murchison, Kibale and Bwindi. Based purely on geography, do you think they would be the same species/subspecies?




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Here are a couple of Vervets from South Africa. Specifically, close to the Umzimvubu River in Port Saint Johns on the Wild Coast.



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@Andy Murch nice additions, those Ugandan monkeys should all be Budgett's tantalus, but this species complex is certainly fairly confusing. 



My guide in Ghana James Ntakor called this monkey that I saw Shai Hills a Callithrix monkey, which is also known as the green or sabaeus monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) a species endemic to West Africa, thus when I uploaded my photo to Flickr I labelled it Callithrix monkey, James while primarily a bird guide certainly knew his other wildlife pretty well, so I was happy to go with what he said. The complication is that the common tantalus monkey (Chlorocebus tantalus tantalus) also just occurs in this area, it’s distribution in Ghana is described as being east of the Volta River, but it is also said to occur on the Accra Plain, the IUCN distribution maps suggest that the monkeys in Shai Hills would be tantalus and not Callithrix, the distribution shown for Callithrix doesn’t come as far southeast as Shai Hills. However, Ghana trip reports I’ve read list sightings of Callithrix monkeys (C. sabeaus) in Shai Hill, but one I read, did say that based on accepted distribution the monkeys should be tantalus. So, I’m not really sure and how much hybridisation goes on I don’t know.    



Calithrix/green monkey or maybe common tantalus ? Shai Hills Resource Reserve in Ghana by inyathi, on Flickr


I did however definitely see Callithrix monkeys albeit a little distantly in Mole National Park, the park is clearly within the distribution for this monkey.



Callithrix monkey, Mole National Park, Ghana 





Callithrix monkey, Mole National Park, Ghana

Cropped even more




The Callithrix monkey is endemic to West Africa, found outside the rainforest from Ghana up through Burkina-Faso into western Mali and across to Senegal, during the era of the slave trade this species was introduced to Cabo Verde and the Caribbean islands of Barbados and St Kitts & Nevis.


I posted a range map for tantalus in my previous post, here's one for the Callithrix monkey


Range map

Edited by inyathi
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  • 2 months later...

When I visited Ethiopia some years back, I visited the Bale Mountains but unfortunately, I never saw any Bale monkeys, I only saw grivets, hopefully someone else will post photos of Bale monkeys. The following two shots are scanned slides they were taken at Wondo Genet, hopefully a more recent visitor to Ethiopia might also post better shots of grivets than these.


The grivet (Chlorocebus aethiops) occurs in  Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; South Sudan and Sudan


Range map




Grivet Wondo Genet Ethiopia




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Happy to help out with Bale Monkey,  @inyathi! They didn´t make it easy for us, we put in a lot of hours to get them. Which is probably not the norm, I think most visitors to Bale Mountain Lodge see them with little effort.




And I hope this is a Grivet (and not a Vervet), from Awash NP.






Edited by michael-ibk
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@michael-ibk very nice thanks for those, I must return to Ethiopia someday for Geladas and Bale monkey.

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Finding this really interesting @inyathi - I'd thought a vervet was a vervet and hadn't realised there were these sub species.

The mammals list in the Visitor's Guide to Kafue NP by the late @Peter de Vere Moss just states Cercopithecus pygerythrus for the vervet so it will be interesting to learn what you and @offshorebirder observe on your forthcoming visit and whether you encounter any Malbrouck's.

Bit off topic but I have fond memories of Katavi in 2005. When was your visit?

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  • 3 weeks later...

@Caracal I have to confess I sneaked in a visit to Katavi last year, :ph34r: I would say that was a special year I'm not in the habit of making two trips in a year, but then my second African safari this year is under a month away,:D so I can't say it's always completely out of the ordinary.  


All of the following photos are of reddish-green vervets taken at Mdonya Old River Camp in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania. 



Upside down vervet monkey, Mdonya Old River, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania by inyathi, on Flickr

































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