Conservation and Survival Adaptations of Temminck's Red Colobus (Procolobus badius temmincki), in Senegal

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In the Fathala Forest, Saloum Delta National Park, Senegal, in 1974–1976 and 1988–2002, we studied the northernmost populations of the endangered Temminck's red colobus (Procolobus badius temmincki). Drastic habitat changes in the last 30 yr have reduced the forests by > 50% (75% in the gallery forests used by the red colobus). The woody species diversity decreased by > 30%. Despite these changes, the red colobus population only decreased from ca. 600 to ca. 500 individuals. We examined the ecological conditions and behavioral adaptations that may have influenced survival of the population. We found that 5 major adaptations have emerged in the last 30 yr that may have influenced the survival of red colobus at Fathala: (1) frugivory, (2) terrestriality, (3) tendency to form polyspecific associations with green monkeys, (4) tendency to frequent more open habitats, and (5) use of mangrove swamps for refuge and forage. By developing these adaptations, red colobus demonstrated their ability to persist in degraded habitats of the Fathala Forest. Preserving the forest should ensure the conservation of the red colobus population there.

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