Agile mangabey (Cercocebus agilis)

Synonyms: Cercocebus galeritus agilis
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderPrimates
FamilyCercopithecidae
GenusCercocebus (1)
SizeMale head-body length: 51 - 65 cm (2)
Female head-body length: 44 - 55 cm (2)
Tail length: 45 - 79 cm (2)
Male weight: 7 - 13 kg (2)
Female weight: 5 - 7 kg (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

The agile mangabey is a large, slender monkey, with relatively long limbs, a long muzzle, and a tail that is longer than its body (4) (5). Males are much larger than females (2) (6) (7). The hair is short and its individual strands have different coloured bands down their length, giving the coat an overall brownish-grey appearance, which is darkest on the back, and paler fawn, with a white or yellowish tinge, on the underside, inner limbs and chin. In adults, the skin of the hands, feet, face and ears is black, and the tail is long, tapered and sometimes ends in a whitish tuft. The face has a white border and on the forehead a slight “whorl” of hair often exposes a pale patch of skin (2) (6).

Mangabeys are quite vocal monkeys, the adult male agile mangabey producing a loud, long-distance call, a whoop followed by a rumble, which can be heard from up to a kilometre away, and may play a role in group spacing (2) (5) (6). Visual signals such as body postures and facial displays are also common, although the agile mangabey lacks the particularly pale eyelids which aid visual communication in other mangabey species (2) (6).

The agile mangabey is found in central and western Africa including Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Central African Republic, northern Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of the Congo River (1) (2) (6).

Typically near water in swamp forest, riparian forest or other seasonally flooded forest (4) (6) (8), though terra firma forest may also be used (1) (6). Agile mangabeys are most often found on the ground or in the lower levels of the forest, at heights of up to 10 metres (1) (4) (6).

The agile mangabey lives in troops of around 8 to 22 individuals, usually led by a single adult male (1) (2) (6). The diet is varied and includes fruit, buds, seeds, shoots, leaves, mushrooms, insects and sometimes birds’ eggs and small vertebrates (1) (6) (7). Adult males have even occasionally been recorded killing and eating young antelopes (9). The agile mangabey’s large incisors and powerful jaws enable it to open tough nuts and pods which other monkeys are unable to exploit (5) (6), while cheek pouches allow food to be gathered for later consumption (6). Agile mangabeys breed year-round, the females giving birth to a single young after a gestation period of around six months (5) (6) (7). Like other mangabeys, the female agile mangabey develops a prominent sexual swelling as a visual signal advertising her readiness to mate (6).

The agile mangabey is under threat from habitat loss in the form of deforestation for timber and firewood, and is also hunted for bushmeat in some areas. Agile mangabeys are also sometimes killed by farmers for raiding crops (1) (6) (8). However, the species has a wide distribution and populations are still relatively stable, so the agile mangabey is not currently considered globally threatened (1).

The agile mangabey is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in this species should be carefully monitored and controlled (3). It is also listed on Class B of the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, meaning agile mangabeys can only be captured or killed with special authorisation (10). The agile mangabey occurs in a few protected areas including Odzala National Park in the Republic of Congo (11) and Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon (8) (12). However, the IUCN recommend that further study is needed into the impact of hunting on this species (1).

For more information on the bushmeat trade, its problems and solutions, see:

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force:
http://www.bushmeat.org

Authenticated (26/03/09) by Matthew Richardson, primatologist and author.

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, London.
  3. CITES (December, 2008)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. Fleagle, J.G. (1999) Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Second Edition. Academic Press, New York.
  5. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Mangabey Species Survival Plan (December, 2008)
    http://www.mangabeyssp.org/
  7. Alden, P.C., Estes, R.D., Schlitter, D. and McBride, B. (1996) Collins Guide to African Wildlife. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
  8. Wolfheim, J.H. (1983) Primates of the World: Distribution, Abundance and Conservation. University of Washington Press, London.
  9. Knights, K.A., Cipolletta, C., Buren, L., Santochirico, M., Wearn, O., Todd, A.F. and Djimbele, O. (2008) The Predatory Behaviour of Agile Mangabeys (Cercocebus agilis) on Blue Duikers (Cephalophus monticola) and other Vertebrates at Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic. XXII Congress of the International Primatological Society, 3-8 August 2008, Edinburgh.
  10. African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (January, 2009)
    http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/Text/Convention_Nature%20&%20Natural_Resources.pdf
  11. Bermejo, M. (1999) Status and conservation of primates in Odzala National Park, Republic of the Congo. Oryx, 33(4): 324 - 332.
  12. UNEP-WCMC: Dja Faunal Reserve, Cameroon (December, 2008)
    http://quin.unep-wcmc.org/sites/wh/pdf/Dja.pdf