Mammals in the News

Just a couple of articles recently that I wanted to share.

First, an interesting piece on why Forest Elephants are not always recognised as a different species to the larger African Elephant, a decision that seesms to rest more on conservation politics than genetics.

And, remaining in the African rainforest, here’s a piece on how Chimps are “overhunting” Colobus monkeys in Uganda. It is also an interesting story, though I didn’t get the implication that the Chimpanzees are a “sinister echo” of homo sapiens in their shortsightedness. Presumably these species have co-existed for a long, long time and any dramatic decline in the Red Colobus population is more likely to have humam-induced change at its roots, than thoughtless Chimps..?



  • vdinets

    I’m not sure there is some human-induced change playing a role (at least there’s no evidence of that). Perhaps it is a cyclical process, with the chimps switching to other prey and allowing the depleted one to recover.

    • Richard Webb

      Although there may be some human-induced decline particularly outside protected areas I do think the article is largely accurate. When I was in Uganda at Christmas guides in Kibale Forest made the same comments about Chimps and it was interesting that we saw no red colobus at all in the main area where Chimps are common but did see them in both Bigodi Swamp and in some of the outer forest areas where Chimps are rare or absent. Likewise in Semliki. We saw ‘Semliki Red Colobus’ along the main trail but it was the first one our guide had seen in over 18 months and when we returned to the visitor centre everyone was genuinely excited by the sighting as they said that they had virtually been hunted to extinction there by Chimps.

      • jontemp

        Thanks Richard. Just to clarify, I wasn’t meant to suggest that the Chimps weren’t eating the monkeys. But rather that they were likely eating more of them because of a decline in other food or prey (because of man) or perhaps the Colobus were no longer able to repopulate the area because of habitat loss destroying corridors or …..

        Though Vladimir’s point about a cyclical switch in prey is also quite possible for sure.

        Sent from my iPhone


  • Carla

    Does anyone have information about current conditions in Madagascar? My sister and I have a trip planned there in October and we’ve been hearing horror stories about problems with Mad Air internal flights delays and cancellations, as well as grim situation of conservation. Any input would be great.

    • mikehoit

      I haven’t heard any specific news of things getting worse – Mad Air are notorious for delays, cancellations etc so it may just be their standard antics! When I went we had to rejig the itinerary due to late schedule changes (for example, we dove one leg instead of flying) but got lucky and didn’t have any major delays on the four internal flights I took, which was considered unusual!
      Re. conservation situation – travelling by road across the centre of the country gives you some idea of how badly the native habitat has been hit, with very little forest (if any) outside National Parks in many areas. However I was genuinely impressed with several protected areas, particularly Ranomafana and Masoala. The latter (and other parts of the NE) has been in the news regarding illegal rosewood deforestation (e.g. but I don’t know what the current situation is. There was some rare good news recently with new reserves being designated (
      Hopefully any bad news you’ve heard isn’t enough to put you off – it is a truly brilliant trip, the local guides are fantastic (and will try to find almost anything you ask for), and conservation efforts will only be enhanced by tourism.
      cheers, Mike

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