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L’ Hoerst Monkey Vulnerable

Also known as the mountain monkey, the L’Hoerst monkey inhabits the Democratic Republic of Congo, western Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. They live in forests with altitudes of up to 2500 metres.

The Zoo has 4 L’hoests monkey: a male and female pair who were born in the wild in Ruwanda and brought to the Joburg Zoo. Unlike other primates, the female usually initiates mating and the pair have contributed to the l’hoerst species, in 2010 the female gave birth to a male and in 2011 she gave birth to a female. The babies will stay with her until they are ready to be part of the captive breeding programme.

Very little is known of the L’hoerst monkey so it may be more threatened than originally thought. Logging, slash and burn agriculture, hunting for bushmeat and mining are the reasons this population is declining. Even populations in protected areas are not safe from these threats; large-scale logging is known to have threatened this species in Kibale Forest, Uganda, and within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, poaching, logging and the extraction of gold and charcoal occurs. The L’hoerst monkey is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN endangered species list. This means that they face a high risk of extinction in the medium term. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists L’Hoest’s monkey on Appendix II, meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored.

Some of the major threats these monkeys face are: slash and burn forests which mean forests are cut and burnt to make way for agriculture, hunting for bushmeat where these animals are hunted and killed for their meat, forest fragmentation, forests have been cleared for wood, crops and cattle. As the forests become more fragmented, the monkeys are less likely to establish a home range, forage more wildly for food and move safely through the forest. The illegal pet trade is also a major concern, not only is it cruel to keep monkeys as pets it is also very dangerous. As monkeys grow older they are known to attack their owners. The palm oil industry is a silent killer. Forests are being burnt down or bulldozed to make way for large palm oil plantations. Animals, such as monkeys lose their entire habitat and are left to die, captured and sold in the illegal pet trade or killed because they are considered pests.

Conservation efforts for these animals have been placed, the The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists L’Hoest’s monkey on Appendix II, meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored while the siamang gibbon is protected against international trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) There are many primate sanctuaries which rescue monkeys and release them back into the wild or place them in a captive breeding system. Zoos also play a major role in the conservation of species. Zoos have captive breeding programs, many animals are bred in Zoos and successfully placed back into the wild. A part of ensuring captive breeding is successful, most Zoo’s share a stud book. A studbook is a list of all the animals in Zoos worldwide. Each Zoo can make a request through the studbook to get another animal on loan from another Zoo. Example: The Johannesburg Zoo have 2 male black and white ruffed lemurs, in order to successfully breed this species, we require an unrelated female, a request is placed via the stud books and they attempt to find an unrelated female for the male. Although the process seems easy it is quite difficult to find an unrelated female and transit costs are high. It is believed 1 in 10 household products which range from food, make-up and household cleaning products contain palm oil. According to legislation in many countries including South Africa, companies are not under any obligation to state whether their products contain palm oil specifically as it permits palm oil to be stated as vegetable oil. The roundtable of sustainable palm oil (RSPO) was formed to address the challenges and promote the sustainable production of palm oil and reduce the impact of deforestation.

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