A MISSION set up by an Anglican foundation university is working to halt the decline in a critically endangered primate in the Gambia.
A team from the University of Cumbria has set up two sites to focus on environmental education as well as primate monitoring, in order to protect the Temminck’s red colobus (TRC) monkey (above), of which there are just 2500 left in the world.
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The lead for the project, Dr Mic Mayhew, said that the monkeys were threatened by habitat loss caused by tourism and logging for production of charcoal, as well as climate change and disease.
He said, however: “We have tangible opportunities to make a difference. Without this intervention, TRCs could be wiped out in as little as a decade.
“We are working in Pirang Community Forest, near the coast, and the Sambel Kunda area, 200 kilometres upriver, putting five rangers and a project manager in place.
“The team will roll out environmental education, set up primate monitoring and forest patrols, as well as developing community tree nurseries, woodlots, and ecotourism.”
Mass tourism to the Gambia, which has grown enormously over the past few decades, has threatened the monkeys’ habitats. The university project will work with the community to encourage small-scale eco-tourism. It has employed people from the area as rangers at the two sites to encourage local ownership of the project.
Of the 19 species of red colobus monkeys, one is already extinct, and six are classified as critically endangered in West Africa.