On Safari in East Africa: Red Colobus Monkeys

Following our time on the mainland we took a ferry to the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. The island is unique and exotic, and it’s where we encountered one of the most endangered species of primates in the world – the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey. With less than 2,000 individuals remaining, conservationists are working to protect their shrinking habitat. 

Isolated on this island for at least 10,000 years, the Zanzibar Red Colobus has some striking features including a crown of long, white hairs that fan out around the face, fiery red fur, pot-bellies and small heads, four fingers and no thumbs.

Leaves are a favorite food – but not just any leaf – they pick around and inspect them to make sure they are young leaves. They also eat unripe fruit as they are unable to digest the sugars in ripe ones. 

Babies are carried, clinging to the belly of the mother, for 6 months. After that, they can move around on their own but may continue to be carried by the mother for more than a year.


Colobus sometimes belch in each others’ faces as a friendly social gesture.


{ video: Red Colobus Monkeys }