Hussar monkey

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Hussar monkey
Western hussar monkey (Erythrocebus patas patas) in Mole National Park in Ghana.

Western hussar monkey ( Erythrocebus patas patas ) in Mole National Park in Ghana.

Superfamily : Tailed Old World Monkey (Cercopithecoidea)
Family : Vervet monkey relatives (Cercopithecidae)
Subfamily : Cheekbones monkey (Cercopithecinae)
Tribe : Vervet monkeys (Cercopithecini)
Genre : Erythrocebus
Type : Hussar monkey
Scientific name of the  genus
Trousseart , 1897
Scientific name of the  species
Erythrocebus patas
( Schreber , 1775)

The patas monkey ( Erythrocebus patas ) is a primate of the genus group of sea felids within the family of Cercopithecidae . It got its name from the cavalry regiment of the hussars because of the reddish color and the high speeds it reaches while running.


The fur of the hussar monkey is colored reddish-brown on the upper side, the underside and the whiskers are whitish to gray. Long neck and beard hairs in the male give a mane-like impression. Females and young animals are often the color of dry grass. The subspecies of the white-nosed hussar monkey ( E. p. Pyrrhonotus ) is also characterized by a white tip of the nose, Erythrocebus patas baumstarki has a black face. The physique of the hussar monkey is adapted to the fast running on the ground, they are slim animals with long limbs, fingers and toes are shortened. The males are much larger than the females, they reach a head body length of 70 to 90 cm, have a 63 to 72 cm long tail and reach a weight of 7 to 13 kg. Females reach a head body length of 48 to 52 cm, have an equally long tail and weigh only 4 to 7 kg.

distribution and habitat

Hussar monkeys are found in western and central Africa , their range extends from Senegal to Ethiopia and Tanzania . They inhabit open grasslands and tree-lined savannahs, avoiding densely forested areas.


Eastern, or white-nosed hussar monkey ( E. p. Pyrrhonotus ) in Murchison Falls National Park

In the Handbook of the Mammals of the World , the hussar monkey is divided into three subspecies, the nominate form Erythrocebus patas patas occurs from Sengal to Chad and in the Central African Republic . In the Sahara, there are isolated populations of the subspecies in the Aïr massif in central Niger and in the Ennedi massif in northeastern Chad. The white-nosed hussar monkey ( E. p. Pyrrhonotus ) lives in Sudan, South Sudan, northern Uganda and Kenya and the well-known distribution area of Erythrocebus patas baumstarki is the central north of Tanzania from the western slope of Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti . The exact distribution area of ​​the last subspecies is so far only insufficiently known. The white-nosed hussar monkey was introduced to Puerto Rico by humans and is found in the southwest of the Caribbean island. The hussar monkeys north of the Niger Arc and in the Aïr massif are smaller than common E. patas patas but otherwise look like the nominate form. They are sometimes listed as a fourth subspecies under the name Erythrocebus patas villiersi . In eastern Sudan, northeast of the Blue Nile and in some places in the extreme west of Ethiopia (including in the Gambela National Park ) there is a hussar monkey population that was declared an independent species ( Erythrocebus poliophaeus ) by an Italian mammaloge in 2017 . It has a completely black face with a black nose, similar to E. patas baumstarki , and the males have long, dark shoulder fur .

Way of life

Distribution area of ​​the hussar monkey

Of all the animals in the genus group of sea felines the Patas monkeys are most dedicated to the life on the ground. In the event of an attack, they prefer to rely less on defense and more on their speed. Cussar monkeys can reach 55 km / h, making them the fastest primates. They are diurnal, but in the midday heat they rest in the shade of the trees. To sleep at night, they climb trees, whereby a group is usually divided into many places in order not to fall into the hands of predators in too large numbers.

Hussar monkeys live in groups of around 15 animals, which are made up of a male, 2 to 8 females and their offspring. Occasionally one can also find single males or small, all-male groups, which can consist of displaced former dominant males and young animals that have just become sexually mature. The male often takes over the guard and observation post to sight food, enemies or other groups. The females form their own hierarchy. Compared to other primates, their sound repertoire is restricted in order not to draw the attention of predators, an adaptation to the way of life on the ground.


The thickened thorns of the fetal acacia

Hussar monkeys are primarily herbivores that feed on fruits, young shoots, flowers, seeds, galls and mushrooms, but they also occasionally eat insects, nestlings, bird eggs and small vertebrates. Grasses are rarely eaten. They use leaves, fruits, galls and tree sap from the acacias that are common in the African savannah . Tree saps make up up to 20% of their diet in some populations. If available, they also eat the fruits of the tamarind and the opuntia . Small fruits like berries are preferred over large ones. The reason could be the small incisors of the hussar monkeys, which make it difficult to bite off large fruits. Cussar monkeys have to drink every day and look for puddles, water points or running waters. In East Africa, the flute acacia ( Vachellia drepanolobium ) is an important food source from which plant juices in particular are consumed . Ants of the genus Crematogaster , as well as their larvae and eggs are obtained from the thickened thorns of the acacia . Other well-known food sources are the yellow acacia , the Seyal acacia , Lycium europaeum , the sweet herb Lippia javanica , the cucumber Cucumis aculeatus , day flowers , hibiscus , harp bushes , cassias , morning glories and termite mushrooms .


Young animal in the Tierpark Berlin

Normally only the group male mates with the females of his group, occasionally other males join in during the mating season. After a gestation period of around 170 days, the female gives birth to a young animal. The birth falls at the beginning of the rainy season, because then the larger food supply can ensure survival. Young hussar monkeys are weaned at 10 months. Sexual maturity begins in the females at around 2 to 3 years of age, in the males at four to five years. As soon as the males are sexually mature, they are chased away by the alpha male. The life expectancy of the hussar monkey is up to 20 years.


Cussar monkeys

Hussar monkeys are hunted for their meat, some African tribes also associate superstitious ideas with their meat: its consumption is supposed to cure leprosy . In addition, there is the loss of habitat due to conversion to arable land or pastures. The IUCN considers the species to be low endangered. It does not provide any information about the congestion of the subspecies. The hussar monkey is found in 37 national parks and protected areas. These include the Basse-Casamance , Djoudj and Niokolo-Koba national parks in Senegal, the Abuko Nature Reserve and the Kiang West National Park in Gambia, the Comoé National Park in the Ivory Coast, the Digya , Kogyae and Mole protected areas in Ghana, and the Pendjari National Park in Benin, the W National Park in Benin and Niger, the Cross-River , Kainji and Yankari National Parks in Nigeria, the Bénoué , Bouba-Ndjida , Kalamalou and Waza National Parks in Cameroon, the Zakouma National Park in Chad, the Dinder National Park in Sudan, the Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda and the Serengeti in Tanzania. The largest population is said to live in Laikipia County in Kenya. However, it is unprotected there. Other larger unprotected populations occur in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. There the hussar monkeys are often hunted by humans to obtain bushmeat . The Tanzanian subspecies Erythrocebus patas baumstarki is particularly threatened . Their population decreased by about a third from 1995 to 2009 and the territory they settled from 30,500 km² to 19,000 km². There may be fewer than 900, maybe only 150, of the subspecies.


Patas monkeys served Kenichi Ito , the fastest man in the world on all fours, as a model for his running style.


Individual evidence

  1. a b c d D. Zinner, GH Fickenscher & C. Roos: Family Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys). Pages 671-672 in Russell A. Mittermeier , Anthony B. Rylands & Don E. Wilson : Handbook of the Mammals of the World: Primates: 3. ISBN 978-84-96553-89-7
  2. Spartaco Gippoliti: On the Taxonomy of Erythrocebus with a Re-evaluation of Erythrocebus poliophaeus (Reichenbach, 1862) from the Blue Nile Region of Sudan and Ethiopia. Primate Conservation 2017 (31) Researchgate
  3. ^ Butynski and Kalina (2013), page 259.
  4. Erythrocebus patas in the endangered Red List species the IUCN 2006 Posted by: T. Butynski & Members of the Primate Specialist Group, 2000. Retrieved on 12 May, 2006.

Web links

Commons : Cussar Monkey  - Collection of images, videos and audio files