Adsorptive Capacity of Charcoals Eaten by Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys: Implications for Reducing Dietary Toxins
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Colobus monkeys on the African island of Zanzibar eat charcoal from burned trees and lying near kilns, where it is produced for cooking. This behavior may be a learned response for counteracting toxicity due to phenolic and similar compounds that occur in significant concentrations in the Indian almond (Terminalia catappa) leaves and mango (Mangifera indica) leaves which constitute a major part of their diet. Accordingly, we studied the adsorption of organic materials from hot water extracts of Indian almond and mango leaves by five charcoals collected in Zanzibar. For comparison, we also evaluated three commercial powdered activated charcoals. Three African charcoals collected at kilns adsorbed more organic material than two kinds collected from burned tree stumps. The commercial activated charcoals adsorbed the organic material best, as expected, yet the African kiln charcoals adsorbed surprisingly well. Thus, the hypothesized function of charcoal eating is supported.
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