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Brazzame cat (Cercopithecus neglectus)

Brazzame cat ( Cercopithecus neglectus )

without rank: Old World Monkey (Catarrhini)
Superfamily : Tailed Old World Monkey (Cercopithecoidea)
Family : Vervet monkey relatives (Cercopithecidae)
Subfamily : Cheekbones monkey (Cercopithecinae)
Tribe : Vervet monkeys (Cercopithecini)
Genre : Monkeys
Scientific name
Linnaeus , 1758
White-throated monkey ( Cercopithecus albogularis )

The (actual) monkeys ( Cercopithecus ) are a primate genus of the monkey relatives (Cercopithecidae) with 26 species. The green monkeys ( Chlorocebus ), the pygmy monkeys ( Miopithecus ) and the swamp monkey ( Allenopithecus ) are each their own genera and are not dealt with here. Vervet monkeys are medium-sized, predominantly tree-dwelling primates that are native to sub-Saharan Africa. They live in groups and are omnivores , but they mainly feed on fruits.

Features and naming

Vervet monkeys have a round head, a slender body, long hind limbs, and a long tail. The basic color of the fur varies from yellow-green to bluish-gray to reddish brown and black, but most species have markings on their faces, such as a strikingly colored whiskers, a nostril or eye stripes. Monkeys reach a head body length of 32 to 70 centimeters and a weight of up to 12 kilograms.

The scientific name of the genus, Cercopithecus , is composed of the Greek πίθηκος ( pronounced píthēkos in ancient Greek : "monkey") and κέρκος (kérkos) "tail" and therefore means "tail monkey".

distribution and habitat

Monkeys live in Africa south of the Sahara , their range extends from Gambia over the southern Sudan up to South Africa . They occur in a number of habitats, you can find them in rainforests, mangrove forests , but also in savannas. However, they avoid completely treeless areas.

Way of life

Activity and social behavior

Vervet monkeys are skilled climbers and jumpers, but they often hit the ground. In the event of a threat and to sleep, they retreat to trees. They are diurnal, they are most active in the early morning and later in the afternoon and evening.

Vervet monkeys live in groups that usually contain 10 to 30 animals, but can occasionally consist of up to 200 individuals. Smaller groups consist of a single sexually mature male, several females and their offspring, larger groups also consist of several males. Most males leave their group after growing up, sometimes several of these males form temporary migrating groups. Vervet monkeys are territorial animals, but largely avoid conflict with other groups. Sometimes they socialize with mangabies or colobus monkeys . Vervet monkeys know a multitude of screams that are intended to point out their own territory to other groups, to warn or to find group members, but also to express joy, pain or sadness. They also use grimaces to communicate, such as raising their eyebrows or baring their teeth. Vervet monkeys greet each other by pressing their noses together, and often groom each other's fur. To warn their group members about different sources of danger, they have developed different sequences of sounds.


Little white-nosed monkey ( Cercopithecus petaurista )

Monkeys are primarily fruit-eaters, but they also eat other parts of plants and meat. In addition to fruits, their diet consists of leaves, flowers, seeds, bird eggs, insects and small vertebrates (such as chicks or small lizards). They often stow found food in their cheek pouches in order to be able to consume it later in peace.


The baby monkeys are usually born at the end of the dry season, so that the young can grow up during the period of excess food. Usually a single cub is born, although twin births do occur occasionally. The gestation period is usually five to seven months. Monkey cubs are weaned in the second half of their life and reach sexual maturity at around four to six years of age. The highest known age of a monkey was 33 years, in the wild life expectancy is around 20 years.

Natural enemies

The vervet monkeys natural enemies include large birds of prey , snakes , baboons and leopards , but humans are the greatest threat.

Monkeys and humans


The German name "Meerkatze" has been documented since the 11th century ( late Old High German merikazza , from meri + kazza ). There are two hypotheses about the origin of this unusual name: If it is originally a German coincidence, it is assumed that the animals got their name from the fact that they resemble cats and were brought across the sea from Africa to Europe. On the other hand, it is possible that the name is originally related to the Sanskrit word markata , which means "monkey". Although it is already called in Old High German merikuo ("sea cow") for "seal" and meriswīn ("guinea pig") for "dolphin", these are at least marine animals.

The Dutch name is meerkat . In South Africa, however, there was a change in meaning: to this day, a completely different species of animal, the meerkat from the mongoose family , is called this in Afrikaans and English .


In some regions, monkeys are unpopular because they sometimes devastate fields and plantations while foraging. They are also feared as carriers of diseases such as yellow fever . On the other hand, they are sometimes used as laboratory animals and, with their fruit nutrition, play an important role in the spread of the seeds. The loss of their habitat through conversion to arable land and pastures is the main threat to the monkeys today, to a lesser extent hunting for their meat. The IUCN lists four species (Diana, red-bellied, western beard, and Nigerian blue-mouthed monkey) as endangered , but does not recognize all of the species listed below.


External system

The (authentics) monkeys together with the green monkeys , the talapoin , the Allen's swamp monkey and the patas monkey , the generic group of sea felids (Cercopithecini) or monkeys in a broad sense.


Roloway monkey ( Cercopithecus roloway )
Red-tailed monkey ( Cercopithecus ascanius )

There are 26 species in eight species groups (according to Wilson & Reeder 2005 and Hart et al. 2012):

The Lomami monkey ( C. lomamiensis ) was described in 2012 , the first new primate species to be found on mainland Africa in nine years.


  • Thomas Geissmann : Comparative Primatology. Springer-Verlag, Berlin et al. 2003, ISBN 3-540-43645-6 .
  • Ronald M. Nowak: Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD 1999, ISBN 0-8018-5789-9 .
  • Don E. Wilson, DeeAnn M. Reeder (Eds.): Mammal Species of the World. A taxonomic and geographic Reference. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD 2005, ISBN 0-8018-8221-4 .

Web links

Commons : Vervet Monkeys  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Monkeys combine sounds to create a new meaning
  2. Meerkatze ,
  3. Duden: The dictionary of origin. Reprint of the 2nd edition 1997, p. 450
  4. JA Hart, KM Detwiler, CC Gilbert, AS Burrell, JL Fuller, et al. (2012) Lesula: A New Species of Cercopithecus Monkey Endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Implications for Conservation of Congo's Central Basin. PLoS ONE 7 (9): e44271. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0044271 .