Diet, Activity Patterns, and Ranging Ecology of the Bale Monkey (Chlorocebus djamdjamensis) in Odobullu Forest, Ethiopia
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- Mekonnen, A., Bekele, A., Fashing, P.J. et al. Int J Primatol (2010) 31: 339. doi:10.1007/s10764-010-9389-3
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Bale monkeys (Chlorocebus djamdjamensis) are little-known primates endemic to the forests of the Bale Massif and Hagere Selam regions of Ethiopia. From August 2007 to May 2008, we conducted the first ever study of the species’ behavior and ecology, focusing in particular on its diet, activity patterns, and ranging ecology in the Odobullu Forest. We studied 2 neighboring groups (group A: 55–60 members; group B: 46–50 members) and conducted behavioral scan samples on the first 2–5 individuals sighted at 15-min intervals. Feeding accounted for 65.7% of the activity budget, followed by moving (14.4%), resting (10.7%), social (7.1%), and other behaviors (2.4%). Overall diet during the study was dominated by young leaves (80.2%), though subjects also ate fruits (9.6%), flowers (3.1%), animal prey (2.3%), shoots (1.5%), stems (1.4%), mature leaves (1.1%), and roots (0.9%). Bale monkeys consumed only 11 plant species; of these, the top 5 species accounted for 94.3% of their diet. The top food item, bamboo (Arundinaria alpina), was responsible for a remarkable 76.7% of their diet, with most (95.2%) of the bamboo consumption consisting of young leaves. Mean daily path length for the study groups was 928 m and mean (100% minimum convex polygon) home range size was 15.2 ha. Though we are cautious in drawing conclusions from only 2 groups, the larger group traveled further per day and occupied a larger home range, patterns suggesting scramble competition may be occurring in Bale monkey groups at Odobullu. The dietary specialization of Bale monkeys on bamboo makes them unique among Chlorocebus spp. and suggests an intriguing ecological convergence with the golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti) of Uganda and bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur spp.) of Madagascar. Their narrow ecological niche, limited geographic distribution, and bamboo harvesting by local people for commercial purposes place Bale monkeys at risk of extinction. To ensure the long-term survival of Bale monkeys, appropriate management action should be taken to conserve the species and the bamboo forests upon which it depends.