Found only in a small section of wetland marsh and swamp forests in Nigeria, the Niger Delta red colobus was wholly unknown to scientists until 1993.
Procolobus epieni is one of the most endangered primates in the world. Biologists in Nigeria estimate there are less than 500 individuals left—and they are not protected under Nigerian law.
They hang out in large groups often with other species such as the Nigerian putty-nosed monkey and the Nigerian white-throated monkey. Few images of the red colobus exist.
Challenges to protecting the species are huge. The Niger Delta has suffered decades of environmental ruin from poorly-managed oil exploitation. Massive oil spills are widespread. Canals and pipelines built by the oil industry have disrupted the landscape with disastrous results for wildlife. Efforts to set aside parts of the delta as protected areas have been hampered by battles over oil rights.
The invasion of oil companies has also increased trade in bushmeat to feed workers and the colobus are easy prey.
According to the IUCN Red List, 48 percent of the world’s primates are threatened with extinction.