GOLDEN MONKEYS

The Golden Monkey is a sub-species of the Old World Monkey; it is found only in the Virunga Volcanic Mountains, which includes Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, as well as Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The Golden Monkey lives in Highland Forests and favours Bamboo forests.  The Golden Monkey is similar to the Blue Monkey; the Golden Monkey is distinguished by its golden-orange patch on the upper flanks and back.

The Golden Monkey lives in social groups of up to 30 individuals, eating leaves, fruit and some insects.  Apparently, their favourite diet is a mix of ripe fruits and bamboo, and the forests that have both is where you find them in the fruit growing season; when there is little fruit, they shift to the straight bamboo forest, for their staple food.

In Volcanoes National Park there are 2 habituated Golden Monkey troops that are available to visit; in total there are 80 individuals. Habituation has helped them overcome their shyness to daily visits by researchers and tourists; living at the base of the volcanoes in the Bamboo forests.  Tracking Golden Monkeys is done in small groups of no more than 8 people; visitors can spend one hour with the monkeys once you find them.  Observing these active primates, jumping from tree to tree makes photographing them a bit of a challenge, but a most enjoyable, rare experience to watch.

The habitat of the Golden Monkey is slowly being destroyed; bamboo extraction is their greatest enemy and efforts are being made to curtail this illegal practice.  The recent wars have paid a toll on the Golden Monkeys as they have on all the wildlife in this area.  The calm of the past few years has been instrumental in restoring the numbers of the Golden Monkey population.  The Golden Monkey is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List.