Monkey, Patas

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Physical Characteristics

The Patas monkey has a long, slimly built body covered in shaggy fur, which is white in color on the underside and red on the back. Their long and powerful limbs are also white while their face is dark with a white moustache and beard, and a red cap with a heavy brow ridge that protects their eyes. They also have a distinctive black line that runs from the face up to the ear. Males tend to be larger in size and have a slight bump that protrudes from their head.

Habitat & Diet

The Patas monkey is found in a broad band throughout Central Africa bordering the Sahara Desert to the north and the moist tropical conditions of the equatorial forests to the south. They inhabit savanna plains, open woodlands and grass steppe that is well vegetated. They are omnivorous, consuming a wide range of both plant matter and small animals in order to survive. Their primary source of food is Acacia fruits, leaves, flowers and tree gum. They will eat insects, lizards and bird’s eggs and will raid crops.

Social Behavior

The Patas monkey is a sociable animal living in troops of between 10 and 40 members with only one older, dominant male. The rest are females with their young. Unlike numerous other primate communities, their troops are led by the females who protect their home ranges from intrusion by other troops. Although the males will not usually get involved in these disputes they will sometimes sound a loud warning call to intimidate the rival group. The role of the male Patas monkey is not only to breed with the females in the group but also to protect them from danger. Males linger on the outskirts of the troop and watch out for approaching danger, acting as a decoy to predators so the females and the young are able to run off and hide. However, despite spending time around them, there is little interaction between males and females outside of the breeding season.

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Fascinating Facts

    • The patas monkey’s long back legs are so powerful that they are able to reach speeds of up to 35 mph, making them the fastest primates in the world.
    • The smart red coat and soldier-like white moustache of the patas monkey has led to them also being commonly known as "Military Monkeys".

Status In The Wild

The patas monkey is listed as of Least Concern from becoming extinct in the wild in the near future. However, increased conservation of the species needs to occur to prevent populations from declining any further. There are 18 national parks and 11 reserves where patas monkeys can be found with some measures having been put into place to try and limit the number of individuals that can be captured from the wild. Still, it is estimated that over 1,000 of these monkeys are caught every year for the exotic pet trade and to be sold to medical research, as well bushmeat.

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