The Golden Monkey is one of the 20 primate species found in the Virungas. Cercopithecus mitis kandti is the scientific name for the golden monkey. They have a stunning appearance when compared to other monkey species. They have brightly colored fur and long golden hair with orange highlights.
The current population estimate is between 2000 and 4000 individuals, and because they are only found in the Virungas, which stretches from Northern Rwanda to Eastern Congo and Southwestern Uganda, they are classified as endangered. They live in groups of about 100 and feed primarily on bamboo shoots, seasonal fruits, bamboo leaves, lichens, sprouts, flowers, leaves, and small invertebrates. Golden monkeys, like mountain gorillas, are only found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Physical: This is most likely where the phrase “what you see is what you get” came from. Or it wasn’t a particularly inventive naming day. Golden monkeys are named after their appearance. Literally. With a golden-orange patch running from their long tail to their back and cheeks and some darker patches on their legs, arms, and face, they stand out from the other primate animals in the wild. Female golden monkeys are much lighter than males; for obvious reasons, but it’s just a fact that applies to most animal species. Male monkeys measure 48 to 67 centimeters and females 46 to 53 centimeters, making them slightly smaller. Males can weigh between 4.5 and 7 kgs, while females can weigh between 3.5 and 4.5 kgs. They are not, as you might expect, large animals.
Family and reproduction: Golden monkeys, like most wild animals, have polygynous relationships. The male monkey in the group is best friends with all of the females. It’s an interesting fact that females initiate this quite progressive mating ritual. The youngling (infant) is born with fur and eyes wide open after a five-month gestation period. Before the baby is given any freedom, the mother takes care of it for about two years. Then after that, it gains the freedom to roam the jungle, join new monkey groups, and form their own packs. However, it remains an endangered species because the only free wild population is confined to the Virungas.
Feeding: Golden monkeys are Herbivores – meaning that they mainly feed on plant species. They are anatomically and physiologically wired to feed on plant materials, and they are known to consume 20 to 30 different plant species as well as the occasional insects that are found on leaves. Who doesn’t enjoy a little snacking? However, they are best known for feeding on bamboo leaves, particularly during the rainy season. When wild fruits are in season, golden monkeys will consume a large number of them before returning to the always-available bamboo.
Environmental Habitat: They are endemic species. They are endemic if they are only found in one location. They live in areas rich in fruit and bamboo, trekking between rainy and sunny seasons. During the rainy season, the bamboo grows, making it ideal for golden monkeys to build homes near a source of plentiful food. During the dry season, when there is less bamboo, some of them migrate to other mountains in search of fruits and other edible plants.
Social Behaviours: Golden monkeys are social creatures that live in groups of 30 to 80 people. The male golden monkey is the group’s leader and has the authority to mate with all of the females. The size of these groups varies according to the altitudes of their habitats. The majority of golden monkeys in higher altitude areas live in smaller groups than their counterparts in lower altitude areas. Female golden monkeys are responsible for the safety of their territories and offspring until they reach the age of.
Life expectancy: Golden monkeys have a lifespan of up to 19 years.
Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one of the most amazing activities one can do while in the park for a primate safari. Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park entails hikes through the forest in search of golden monkeys in their natural habitat. The activity begins at 8 a.m. with a briefing on what to expect, after which travelers set out on the Gahinga trail in search of the golden monkeys.
The golden monkeys make the forest come alive with their monkey activity, jumping from one bamboo tree to another as they play and eat. Once encountered, travelers are only allowed one hour with the monkeys before returning to the starting point. The activity isn’t difficult, but it can take up to three hours because the monkeys live in lower areas. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to track golden monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
To track golden monkeys in Mgahinga, visitors must have the proper equipment, such as good hiking shoes, long-sleeved shirts, rain jackets, insect repellents, binoculars for birders, energy-giving snacks, and water for refreshment during the hike. A hiking stick could also be useful. You can also hire a porter at the beginning of the trek to assist you with carrying your backpack or supporting you on slippery paths by pulling or pushing you.
Travelers must first purchase golden monkey tracking permits, which allow only one person to participate in the activity. Foreign non-residents and residents pay $60 for the permit, while East African citizens pay UGX40,000 per person, and can only be used once. Permits can be purchased on-site at Ntebeko’s park headquarters or through a reputable tour company.
Visitors who want to spend more time with the golden monkeys can opt for a golden monkey habituation experience in the park. Travelers learn about the nature and behaviors of golden monkeys in the company of researchers and experts during the habituation experience. A gold monkey habituation experience permit costs $100 for foreign non-residents and residents and UGX100,000 for East African citizens.
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