Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops)
This small, black-faced monkey is common in East Africa as it adapts easily to many environments and is widely distributed. There are several subspecies of vervet monkeys, but generally the body is a greenish-olive or silvery-gray.
In Uganda there at least 4 races out of the 20 recognised worldwide; the black faced vervet (C.a.centralis), Naivasha vervet (C.a.callidus), Jebel Mara tantalus (C.a.marrensis) and Stuhlmann’s green monkey (C.a.stuhlmanni). They are common and widespread even outside of national parks, but they are absent from forest interiors and Afro-alpine habitats. Leaves and young shoots are most important in the Vervet diet, but bark, flowers, fruit, bulbs, roots and grass seeds are also consumed. The mainly vegetarian diet is supplemented with insects, grubs, eggs, baby birds and sometimes rodents and hares. Vervets rarely drink water.
The face, ears, hands, feet and tip of the tail are black, but a conspicuous white band on the forehead blends in with the short whiskers. The males are slightly larger than the females and easily recognized by a turquoise blue scrotum and red penis. The vervet is classified as a medium-sized to large monkey-males weigh up to 17 pounds. Its tail is usually held up, with the tip curving downward. Its arms and legs are approximately the same length.
Vervet society is built on complex but stable social groups (called troops) of 10 to 50 individuals mainly adult females and their immature offspring. There is a strict social hierarchy among troop members; a mother’s social standing predetermines her offspring’s, and even adults in a family must submit to juveniles of families with higher social status. Males transfer troops at least once in their lifetime, beginning at puberty. This is a dangerous process not only because of the predators they may encounter in transit, but also because troops dislike immigrants.