Wild Fact #339 – Cute as a Virus – Sooty Mangabey

Sooty Mangabey

Photo by Year of the dragon (Wikimedia)

Welcome back to another fun and exciting Wild Fact. Today we are all in for a real treat as we are heading to the forests of Western Africa (between Senegal and Ghana) to look for a spectacular creature known as the Sooty Mangabey. They also have a few other names including White-Crowned Mangabey, White-Naped Mangabey and of course White-Collared Mangabey. For some reason, people like to name this Old World monkey by their white coloration around their head. Regardless of their name, this endangered species definitely deserves its very own Wild Fact, so let’s see what we can learn about our primate friend, shall we?

Diverse Habitat

The Sooty Mangabey prefers to live in old growth forests but has no problems hanging out in Mangroves, Swamps and the super cool, Gallery Forests. If I were a monkey, I think I would live in a Mangrove Swamp….those things just look so fun. As you might expect, this particular monkey is much like others – they typically spend their time in the trees and do most of their galavanting during the day. It is during this time when they go out and scour the earth for very tasty fruits and seeds but if they can’t find them they have no issues feasting on insects or other small animals.

Sooty Mangabey

Photo credit: Yerkes NPRC

Taught to Share

Interestingly enough, it is believed that the Sooty Mangabey is responsible for passing along a strain of the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) to humans, which became known as the HIV-2 virus. Sure the common Chimpanzee gets all the credit for passing along the HIV-1 strain but nobody knows about the poor Sooty Mangabey who was thoughtful enough to share their virus with us. Besides HIV, this particular monkey is also susceptible to contracting leprosy so you have to wonder what else these little Mangabey’s are capable of contracting. I think I might keep my distance during our trip to Western Africa.

Watch Your Back!

When the Sooty Mangabey isn’t worrying about which disease they are going to catch, they need to be on the lookout for a variety of predators including leopards, eagles, snakes, humans and even the common chimpanzee. I have a tough time picturing a cute little chimp causing problems for their sooty cousins but I guess all is fair in love and survival.

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