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New Primate Found in Africa

by Judy Purdy


Intro  |  No Luck Then a Jackpot  |  Co-Discovery   |  Demonstrating the Value of the Forests   |  Nature of the Species

Days and Nights in the Forest



Two teams of researchers, one led by a UGA anthropologist, co-discover the Highland mangabey and reconfirm the value and uniqueness of its diverse environment.

On Tanzania’s forested mountain slopes, Carolyn Ehardt and her research team made the find of a lifetime in September 2004. But they were under strict orders to keep mum about discovering Africa’s first new primate species in two decades, the Highland mangabey, until their paper was published in the journal Science eight months later.

Ehardt, a University of Georgia primatologist, unknowingly began to lay the groundwork for her 2004 discovery a decade earlier. She had received support from the U.S. National Science Foundation to assess the feasibility of primate research in the Udzungwa. Her pilot work led to a study of the conservation status of primates and other large mammals and birds of the Udzungwa Mountains; it also indicated a need for basic survey research. For the next seven years, Ehardt and her team of scientists and local assistants traversed the rugged mountain slopes during Tanzania’s dry season, collecting distribution and abundance data on monkeys, other native mammals and birds. At the survey’s completion, Ehardt decided to focus her ensuing research on the Sanje mangabeys, reclusive monkeys that live in troops of 35 to 40 adults and young, and, during daylight hours, clamor about in the tall trees and on the forest floor of the mountain’s steep slopes.

“We knew nothing about their habitat requirements, diet or ranging patterns,” Ehardt said. “We knew nothing even about their demographics or how many we thought remained in the forests. All of this is essential information if we are to effectively conserve the remaining total population of less than 1,300 animals.”


Intro  |  No Luck Then a Jackpot  |  Co-Discovery   |  Demonstrating the Value of the Forests   |  Nature of the Species


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