By Rebecca Bloomfield
Malawi’s first ever Samango Monkey Research Project is officially up and running, with its first few weeks of surveying turning out to be a great success. The project aims to study the occupancy and density of this relatively unknown species, and to assess the genetic impacts of habitat fragmentation and degradation. This information can then be used to implement conservation strategies to help protect Malawi’s samango monkeys (Cercopithecus spp.) and their natural habitat from the threat of deforestation.
The project’s first surveying period took place in Lifuwu Hill in Salima, using platforms baited with bananas to collect valuable hair and faecal samples for genetic analysis. With the population size in this area being previously uncertain, the team were delighted to have spotted just under 40 samango monkeys so far, including two groups of at least ten individuals. Excitingly, one of these groups of samangos appeared to have adopted two vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) into their troop!
Research like this is vital to help protect Malawi’s wildlife. If you would like to get involved in this project, we currently have volunteering opportunities, as well as placements for BSc, MSc, MRes and PhD students. Future research sites are likely to include the beautiful locations of Nyika National Park, Ntchisi Forest Reserve, Satemwa and Zomba, and work will involve population census surveys, habitat assessments and GIS mapping and data entry. For more information on how to get involved, click here.