The recent discovery of a new species of monkey in the Democratic Republic of Congo provides even further reason to protect the incredible biodiversity in the Congo basin.
The monkey, known locally as ‘lesula’, has been named Cercopithecus lomamiensis, after the Lomami River, to which the species lives near. Finding a new member of the Cercopithecus genus was a surprise to the researchers who identified it, as this group of primates is well-known, and this is only the second new monkey species discovered in Africa in 28 years.
The lesula’s range is estimated to be about 6,500 square miles; this is relatively small, and makes it vulnerable to risks such as hunting and habitat loss. Also in the forest where the monkeys were found are bonobos, okapi, elephants, and ten other species of primates, so protecting it is extremely important. Dr John Hart, who led the research project through which the species was discovered, said, “The challenge for conservation now in Congo is to intervene before losses become definitive. Species with small ranges like the lesula can move from vulnerable to seriously endangered over the course of just a few years.”
The region is now in the final stages of becoming a protected area, and will be named Lomami National Park. There are many challenges facing forest conservation globally, but we hope the future for the lesula, and the other species with which it shares its habitat, is secure.