As I prepare to post about a newly “discovered” monkey, NPR beats me to the punch with the same story. With so many newly described animals being reported in the wildlife press, I can only deduce they decided to report on this one because of its face.
The ‘lesula’ (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) inhabits the largely unexplored old-growth rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to scientist and explorer, John Hart, the area is so remote that primates only come out of it as heavily smoked and unrecognizable bushmeat.
Researchers estimate the lesula habitat at around 6,500 square miles. The species is not uncommon as the region is so far untouched by logging and mining. Like many of Africa’s primate, however, the monkey is imperiled by a growing bushmeat trade.
The monkey lives in a region home to bonobos, okapi, forest elephants, and Congo peacock. The Harts originally came to the area to study bonobos, sometimes called pygmy chimps, the great apes that are closely related to chimpanzees but have unique social structures,
Researchers suggest that the lesula be listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, due to a likely decline from “uncontrolled” bushmeat hunting.
John and Terese Hart have been working with authorities to combat illegal poaching in the region and are working with the DRC government and local communities on establishing a 3,470 square mile protected area in the region known as Lomami National Park.
The lesula is only the second newly discovered monkey in Africa in the past 28 years