13 September, 2012

Lesula: the New Monkey from Democratic Republic of Congo

Lesula Monkey
It is the 21st Century and, incredibly, a new monkey species has been discovered in Africa. In the Democratic Republic of Congo. In June 2007, a previously undescribed monkey known locally as “lesula” was found in the forests of the middle Lomami Basin in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Cercopithecus Lomamiensis
Discovered in 2007, but it is only now that it is being confirmed that it is in fact a distinct and previously unrecorded monkey species, as is being reported in the PLOS journal. "The first lesula found was a young captive animal seen in 2007 in a school director’s compound in the town of Opala in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the journal said in a news statement. “The young monkey bore a resemblance to the owl faced monkey, but its coloration was unlike that of any other known species.”

Lesula Monkey
The discovery happened by complete accident: lead researcher John Hart of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation was not in the wild when he first spotted the curious monkey in 2007. He was fanning through photographs brought back from the field and noticed something unusual about a young female monkey being kept in a village as a 13-year-old girl’s pet. “When I first saw it, I immediately knew it was something new and different. I just didn’t know how significant it was,” said Hart.

The Lesula, or Cercopithecus lomamiensis - only the second new species of African monkey discovered in the last 28 years - is long-owl-faced, has a long nose, is wide eyed, is colorful, has a bright blue buttocks, has an aquamarine backside, is shy, has a small range in the very remote Lomami forest basin in central DRC, and is a very threatened species. Very unfortunately and sadly, if nothing serious is done soon, the newly discovered monkey will soon go extinct in the wild.

+ National Geographic

Search Safari Notes