Sooty Mangabey, Cercocebus atys

The Sooty Mangabey (Cercocebus atys) is an Old World monkey located in forests from Senegal east to Ghana. While overall rated as Vulnerable, the eastern race, lunulatus, known also as the White-Crowned, White-Naped, or White-Collared Mangabey, is considered to be Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

They Sooty Mangabey reside in both old growth and secondary forests in addition to flooded, dry, swamp, mangrove, and gallery forests. The primate is arboreal and diurnal. They are omnivores whose diet primarily made up of fruits and seeds, occasionally feeding on small animals. They live in social groups of 4 to 12 individuals, but sometimes groups as large as 95 individuals have been documented.

There are 2 distinctive subspecies of this mangabey, and it is plausible that they should be considered separate species. Both were previously considered subspecies of a widespread Cercocebus torquatis. The subspecies are named Cercocebus atys atys and White-Collared Mangabey, Cercocebus atys lunulatus.

These monkeys are naturally infected with a strain of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, known as SIVsmm. Because of an extensive human-mangabey contact in sub-Saharan Africa, SIVsmm has moved from this species into humans on multiple occurrences, resulting in HIV-2 virus. The HIV-1 strain by contrast derives from the common chimpanzee strain of SIV.

This monkey can also contract leprosy, as can humans, the Nine-Banded Armadillo, the common chimpanzee, and the Crab-Eating Macaque.

Image Caption: Cercocebus atys lunulatus. Credit: Year of the dragon/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)