Habitat use by the ashy red colobus monkey (procolobus rufomitratus tephrosceles) in Mbuzi forest, Rukwa Region, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
Conservation of habitats for primates such as the Ashy red colobus monkey (Procolobus rufomitratus tephrosceles) requires thorough knowledge on how they use their habitats. Paucity of information on habitat use attributes for the monkey in Mbuzi forest, Rukwa Region, Tanzania prompted the present study to be conducted. This study specifically aimed at determining the monkey’s preferential use of habitats, its activities and diet variations in the various forest habitats viz. open canopy forest, nearly closed canopy forest patches, forest edges and cultivated land. Between June and August 2011, monkey groups were followed in each habitat type from dawn to dusk for 36 days. Aspects of habitat preference (habitat type and time spent in it), activities, food plants and food items were recorded during the follows. Total time spent (minutes), percentage frequencies, richness and diversity of food items and activities were computed and compared among habitat types. Total time spent by the monkeys was significantly variable among habitat types. Monkeys preferentially spent most of their time in the open canopy forest patches and least time in the cultivated patches. Monkeys were engaged in more diverse activities in those habitat types where they stayed longest. Resting and feeding were the leading activities in all habitat types. Leaves were the most frequently eaten food item. Parinari excelsa was the most frequently eaten plant species in most habitat categories. Additionally, those habitats where the monkeys stayed longest had the highest richness of categories of food items and diversity of food tree species. Differences in preferential use of habitats in the forest were attributed to variable sizes of habitat types, number and diversity of food plants in a habitat, levels of habitat fragmentation and other human-induced disturbances at the forest-cultivation interface. Findings of this study suggest that conservation of all habitats of the Mbuzi forest remains crucial and urgent. I recommend that conservation interventions concentrate on raising conservation education and awareness and on enhancing law enforcement.
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Red colobus monkey, Mbuzi forest, Rukwa Region, Tanzania
Kibaja, M (2012) Habitat use by the ashy red colobus monkey (procolobus rufomitratus tephrosceles) in Mbuzi forest, Rukwa Region, Tanzania, Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. (Available at