The future for endangered golden monkeys is looking brighter, now that a conservation action plan spearheaded by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s biodiversity program manager has been published by IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and is ready for implementation.
This five-year action plan grew out of research started by Deogratias (Deo) Tuyisingize, Ph.D., beginning in 2004, when he first came to the Fossey Fund as a student intern to establish the study and protection of golden monkeys in the only two forests where they are found – in the Virunga massif and the Gishwati-Mukura National Park. These monkeys, which are a subspecies of blue monkey, are the only other primate living in the forest with the Virunga population of mountain gorillas. Dr. Deo quickly recognized that their population was declining, mainly as a result of habitat loss and degradation as well as poaching.
Now, after conducting years of research on the golden monkeys’ lives, ranges, diets, reproductive patterns and more, Dr. Deo has led an international team of conservationists, park managers, scientists and local communities to develop the first action plan for their conservation, using IUCN guidelines for species conservation planning.
Golden monkeys face a variety of challenges to their survival, including loss of habitat and key food plants. In fact, the two populations of golden monkeys were once a single population, but conversion of forest to agricultural land has since split them into two separate populations. The total size of the population is about 5,000, but only about 170 of them are located in the Gishwati location.
Dr. Deo and the golden monkey researchers he has helped train now also provide daily observations on golden monkey groups in Rwanda. In the process, they have identified and named more than 400 individual monkeys. And, golden monkey visits are a significant part of the ecotourism experience in Volcanoes National Park.
“This action plan is a big step to ensure a sustained golden monkey population and was highly needed in order to delineate strategies to reduce threats to golden monkeys,” says Dr. Deo.
“The plan pinpoints the research that is needed and also calls for community income-generating activities that do not rely on the forests, rehabilitation of degraded areas of forest areas and other measures. We believe that when the recommended activities are implemented effectively, the golden monkey population will be able to thrive for generations to come.”
Conservation is a collaborative effort and we were proud to partner with numerous organizations in the plan’s development, including the Rwanda Development Board, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature.
Click here to read the plan and see the full list of collaborating organizations, communities and individuals.