Article

Is the southern patas monkey Erythrocebus baumstarki Africa's next primate extinction? Reassessing taxonomy, distribution, abundance, and conservation

Authors:
  • Eastern Africa Primate Diversity and Conservation Program, Kenya
  • Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme, Sustainability Centre Eastern Africa
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Abstract

The "Critically Endangered" southern patas monkey Erythrocebus baumstarki, thought to be endemic to Tanzania, has been resurrected to species level based on its geographic isolation, and on the coloration and pattern of its pelage. This study presents the first evidence for E. baumstarki in Kenya and reviews its historic and current geographic distributions based on the literature, museum specimens, online platforms, responses to requests for site records, and our own fieldwork. The distribution of E. baumstarki in the early 20th century was roughly 66,000 km2 . This has declined about 85% to around 9700 km2 at present (post-2009). The current "Extent of Occurrence" is only about 2150 km2 . This species was extirpated from Kenya in about 2015 and from the Kilimanjaro Region in Tanzania in about 2011. At present, E. baumstarki appears to be restricted to the protected areas of the western Serengeti, with the western Serengeti National Park being the stronghold. The number of individuals remaining is probably between 100 and 200, including between 50 and 100 mature individuals. The ultimate threat to E. baumstarki is the very rapidly increasing human population, while the main proximate threats are the degradation, loss, and fragmentation of natural habitats, and the related competition with people and livestock for habitat and water, particularly during droughts. Other problems are hunting by poachers and domestic dogs, and probably loss of genetic variation and climate change. This article provides recommendations for reducing the threats and promoting the recovery of E. baumstarki. We hope this article heightens awareness of the dire conservation status of E. baumstarki and encourages an increase in research and conservation action for this monkey.

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... Although illegal hunting for bushmeat affects several larger mammal species in LMNP (Kiffner et al., 2017), primates are generally not hunted in this region (Kiffner et al., 2015a). Monkeys are unlikely the target species of poachers here, but they can be a by-catch of snares, as reported for southern patas monkeys (Erythrocebus baumstarki) in the western Serengeti (De Jong and Butynski, 2021). While we cannot rule out possible impacts of diseases on gentle monkey populations (e.g. ...
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Predator sensitive foraging represents the strategies that animals employ to balance the need to eat against the need to avoid being eaten. Ecologists working with a wide range of taxa have developed sophisticated theoretical models of these strategies, and have produced elegant data to test them. However, only recently have primatologists begun to turn their attention to this area of research. This volume brings together primary data from a variety of primate species living in both natural habitats and experimental settings, and explores the variables that may play a role in primates' behavioural strategies. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that predator sensitive foraging is relevant to many primates, of various body sizes and group sizes and living in different environments. Eat or be Eaten encourages further discussion and investigation of the subject. It will make fascinating reading for researchers and students in primatology, ecology and animal behaviour.
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Threats to the Serengeti Protected areas are an important tool for conserving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. But how well do these areas withstand pressure from human activity in surrounding landscapes? Veldhuis et al. studied long-term data from the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in East Africa. Human activities at boundary regions cause animals to concentrate in the core of the protected area, which eventually reduces soil carbon storage and nitrogen fixation rates and increases vulnerability to extreme droughts. Similar patterns are likely for many, if not all, large protected areas. Science , this issue p. 1424
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This article asks the questions: What is taxonomy? What is a species? What are higher categories? and What is nomenclature? A brief classification of primates is presented, with special sections on the taxonomy of the strepsirrhines, tarsiers, platyrrhines, cercopithecoids, and hominoids, and a note on fossils.
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The Serengeti will die if Kenya dams the Mara River - Volume 51 Issue 4 - Bakari Mnaya, Mtango G.G. Mtahiko, Eric Wolanski
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The Amboseli ecosystem is known worldwide as one of Kenya's conservation jewels, and is recognized as a landscape where humans, livestock, and wildlife have co-existed for centuries. However, there is a long-term shift underway, pushed by a transition in human land-use from extensive pastoralism by Maasai to intensive pastoralism carried out within legally-prescribed private parcels of land. In the face of this transition, the region's wildlife populations and its system of seasonal livestock and wildlife movements appear increasingly fragile, and Maasai pastoralists themselves are facing significant challenges to their economic and cultural well-being.
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A revision is presented of the palm genus Ravenea, endemic to Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Seventeen species are treated, including five new species and the three species of Louvelia, which is here formally reduced to Ravenea. The genus is of some importance in village-level economy, being used for food, in hat-making and as termite-resistant construction timber.
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The Loita and contiguous plains areas of Kenya are described, with details of their geology, soils, climate and general ecology. The plains are mainly open grassland which is subjected to frequent burning and heavy grazing. The striking vegetation patterns which are characteristic of the Loita plains are shown to be associated with the regular distribution of low termite mounds. The vegetation patterns and underlying soils are described in detail and it is suggested that the patterns develop on soil zones containing varying concentrations of colloidal matter washed from the termite mounds at their centre. The shape of the pattern is influenced by topography.
Article
Water, forage and predation constrain ungulate distributions in savannas. To understand these constraints, we characterized distributions of 15 herbivore species from water, locations of peak density and degree of clustering around the peaks using zero-inflated count data models and mapping census data collected in the Mara reserve and the adjoining pastoral ranches in Kenya during a wet and dry year. Herbivores followed a humped pattern (n = 46), suggesting constrained foraging in which they balance the benefits of proximity to water with the costs of foraging where food is depleted near water and travelling to more abundant food distant from water; an exponentially decreasing pattern (n = 11), indicating strong attraction to water or vegetation near water; or a uniform (n = 3) pattern. The details rather than the types of these patterns varied between years. Herbivores concentrated farther from water and more tightly around locations of their peak densities in the ranches than the reserve. Herbivores were more abundant and widely distributed from water in the wet than the dry year, and segregated along the distance-to-water gradient, presumably to minimize interspecific competition for food. Pastoralism compressed herbivore distributions and partially excluded some species (warthog, hartebeest, topi, wildebeest, zebra, eland, buffalo and elephant) from, while attracting others (Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles, impala, giraffe) to the ranches, relative to the reserve. Regulating cultivation, fencing, settlements and livestock stocking levels in the ranches would allow continued wildlife access to water, reduce competition with, displacement or harassment of wildlife by people, livestock and dogs near water.
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The way we view the Species category in Primates, as in other animals, especially other vertebrates, has been going through a revolution over the past 20 years or so. Much is wrong with the idea that we can define species according to whether or not they are "reproductively isolated": this concept, the so-called Biological Species Concept, has never offered any guidelines in the case of allopatric populations; this has now been shown to be simply wrong. Although other ways of looking at species - the Evolutionary, Recognition, Cohesion and Genetic Species Concepts - have all provided particular insights, the only proposal to offer a repeatable, falsifiable definition of species is the Phylogenetic Species Concept. This has been criticised for increasing the number of species to be recognised, although it is not clear why this should be a problem: indeed, it tells us that the world is far richer in biodiversity than we had conceived. Am. J. Primatol. 74:687-691, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Chapter
In the Serengeti National Park (SNP), illegal game meat hunting is largely carried out using snares in the south-western, western and north-western areas. Game meat hunting provides cash income and protein to communities outside the SNP. The economic benefits of game meat hunting have drawn people to villages close to the park boundary, causing a rise in human population density well above the regional average. Game meat hunting has already drastically reduced populations of Cape buffalo and must in the long term be considered unsustainable for a number of other herbivore species. In this chapter an estimate of the current wildlife offtake from the National Park is made and the impact of unselective hunting methods on carnivore species, the most common non-target species, is considered. The analysis demonstrates that game meat hunting poses a threat to both target and non-target species of the Serengeti wildlife community. Optimality models, commonly used in behavioural ecology and economics, are introduced to assess a hunter’s profit in relation to hunting effort (costs) and to ask whether unchecked illegal hunting is likely to be sustainable in the long term. A review of studies on African systems demonstrates that whenever costs are reduced, the impact on wildlife due to illegal hunting is dramatically increased and reaches unsustainable levels. Proposals to limit wildlife offtake to sustainable levels, including limited legalization of game meat hunting in areas adjacent to SNP and the development of alternative sources of income and protein for local communities, are considered. The evaluation of these proposals suggests that the situation in the Serengeti does not meet the pre-conditions and assumptions of programmes developed elsewhere for maximizing economic returns from wildlife utilization as an incentive to preserve wildlife; hence such programmes are unlikely to be successful here. This is because the Serengeti is a wildlife system dominated by migratory herbivores, exacerbating the problem of assigning unambiguous ownership of wildlife outside the protected area to a given local community — a pre-condition for any successful privatization or commercialization scheme. Also, if future community conservation services are focused only on those communities that currently benefit most from illegal exploitation, i.e. communities adjacent to the protected areas, then such programmes are likely to reinforce a vicious cycle. They are likely to attract more people to villages close to the protected area and ultimately put greater demands on the proted areas, just as currently people are attached to these villages because of enhanced oppurtunities for illegal hunting. The analysis suggests that in ecosystems dominated by migration herbivores and wih low levels of law enforcement a large investment is required in both law enforcement and rural development of local communities, that the success of the latter may be linked to investment in the former, and that without both of these the long-term conservation of Serengeti wildlife populations is unlikely to be ensured.
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The ants that live in the swollen thorns (domatia) of Acacia drepanolobium are staple foods for patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas). To obtain a better understanding of these insects as resources for patas monkeys, we sampled the contents of 1,051 swollen thorns (ant domatia) over a 22-month period from December 1999 to September 2001, in Laikipia, Kenya. First, we confirmed that of the four species of ants that live on A. drepanolobium, Crematogaster sjostedti, the competitively dominant ant in this system, does not rear significant brood in the swollen thorns and is therefore not a major food item of patas monkeys. Second, across the other three species that do use swollen thorns for rearing their brood, C. nigriceps, C. mimosae, and Tetraponera penzigi, the number of worker ants per swollen thorn increased with increasing competitive dominance. Third, although there was considerable month-to-month variation in the number of workers, immatures, and especially alates (winged reproductives) within species, there was less variation across species because ant production was asynchronous. Variation in domatia contents was poorly related to rainfall for each of the three species. Finally, distal thorns held more alates and fewer workers than interior thorns, and branches higher off the ground held more alates and more workers than lower branches. For the numerically dominant C. mimosae, higher branches held significantly more immature ants than did lower branches. Ants are reliable food resources for patas monkeys, and are probably more reliable than many plant resources in this highly seasonal environment. We estimate that patas monkeys may get as much as a third of their daily caloric needs from these ants year-round. As ants and other insects are widely consumed by primates, we suggest that greater consideration be given to species differences in animal food choices and that further studies be conducted to examine the degree to which ants influence energy intake and reproduction in other primates.
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Systematic biologists have directed much attention to species concepts because they realize that the origin of taxonomic diversity is the fundamental problem of evolutionary biology. Questions such as, What are the units of evolution? and, How do these units originate? thus continually capture the attention of many. It is probably no exaggeration to say that most believe the “systematic” aspects of the problem have been solved to a greater or lesser extent, whereas the task before us now is to understand the “genetic” and “ecologic” components of differentiation, i. e., those aspects often perceived to constitute the “real mechanisms” of speciation: A study of speciation is, to a considerable extent, a study of the genetics and evolution of reproductive isolating mechanisms (Bush, 1975, p. 339). ... a new mechanistic taxonomy of speciation is needed before population genetics, which deals with evolutionary mechanisms, can be properly integrated with speciation theory; that is, the various modes of speciation should be characterized according to the various forces and genetic mechanisms that underly [sic] the evolution of isolating barriers (Templeton 1980, p. 720).