Mona Monkeys are found in the tropical forests of Western Africa–from Ghana to Cameroon. Colourful and vocal monkeys, their most distinctive marking are the two bold white spots on their hips, either side of their tail. Their bright white underside also stands out vividly in the dark forest, and hunters often call them the “white monkey”.
Monas are one of the most adaptable of the forest guenons, and can live in several types of forest areas. They are the only primate found in pure mangrove habitat, far from any coastal forest. One may occasionally observe other primates in mangrove forests, but only if there is substantial coastal rainforest nearby.
The mona “sneeze” call, an alarm call that travels quickly through a group, is usually the first sign that monas are in the nearby forest, apart from the loud call of the male. The alarm call is used to warn troop members of danger, usually predators such as snakes or eagles—and man. A careful observer who remains undetected may also hear their contact call “nnneee”, made at frequent intervals to help keep contact with each other in the thick vegetation. Hunters say in the mangrove areas, the large male also warns others of the incoming tide with his “boom” call, a two syllable resonant short call, often preceding the loud “hack”
Mona monkeys are probably the most commonly held captive primate in Nigeria. Known generally as the most mischievous and curious of monkeys, as youngsters they unfortunately appear to make delightful pets. CERCOPAN has on many occasions been asked to take on mature – no longer so cute and cuddly – monas. We are working hard to educate people about the folly of keeping wild primates as pets.