The Samango Monkey is one of South Africa’s less well-known primates, being restricted to the densely vegetated habitats along the coast and adjacent hinterland of the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal and the escarpment forests of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.
Males are considerably stronger built than females, and weigh up to 11kg.
Samango Monkeys are to be found only in indigenous forests and on their edges, where they feed on fruits, flowers, leaves, seeds, insects, bark, eggs, nestlings and small mammals and reptiles. Troops number up to 70 individuals, though usually far fewer with 20 being the average, and are lead by between one and five adult males. They are strictly diurnal and much more arboreal than the vervet monkey, their better known and more widely distributed South African cousin. Single babies are born in the summer months. Forest predators, like leopards, crowned eagles and pythons, are their biggest natural enemies.
Known elsewhere in Africa as the Sykes’ or Blue Monkey, with several recognised subspecies, the race of Samango Monkey occurring in South Africa is considered “vulnerable” by the IUCN, as they occur mostly in small numbers in highly fragmented habitats, with little genetic exchange between subpopulations. We’ve encountered Samango Monkeys in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Tembe Elephant Park and in the Oribi Gorge, but it is only at Cape Vidal in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park that you’d be virtually guaranteed to see this special species as they’ve become quite habituated to the human presence and boldly raid even the best protected picnic basket…