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CITES: Appendix I (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: M. leucophaeus: EN; M. sphinx: VU (What is Red List?)
Key: EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

M. sphinx
M. sphinx
Photo: Joanna Setchell

It is illegal to kill M. leucophaeus and punishable by large fines and prison, although such penalties have never been imposed in practice and enforcement is often difficult or nonexistent in practice, even in protected areas (Wild et al. 2005).

Reintroduction projects of M. sphinx in Gabon have been undertaken, with some individuals being successfully introduced into the wild, integrating with wild individuals and becoming self-sufficient. This has provided critical experience for potential future reintroduction projects (Peignot et al. 2008).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Habitat loss for various purposes is a significant threat to the genus Mandrillus. Causes for such deforestation or habitat degradation may include forest clearance for cattle grazing and agriculture, and expanding human settlements (Cox 1997; Wild et al. 2005). Further, roads constructed for other industries can exacerbate threats to Mandrillus populations, by increasing human populations as well as bushmeat commerce and consumption (Harrison 1988; Steiner et al. 2002-2003). Logging roads also isolate populations, and alter their ecology (Gadsby & Jenkins Jr. 1997-1998).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Hunting of mainland M. leucophaeus occurs often and is probably the biggest threat to the species. Hunting can be and has been quite intense, and has the potential to or has significantly reduced populations (Gadsby 1992; Wild et al. 2005; Willcox & Nambu 2007). In other cases, hunting has fragmented populations significantly altering their ecology. In one instance from the 1990’s, several hunters killed over one hundred individuals in only several hunting trips. However, local traditional hunting bans have had some success in curbing the cull (Wild et al. 2005). Intensive hunting of M. leucophaeus for bushmeat also occurs on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, where carcasses can be found for sale in markets, and is considered a delicacy (Gonzalez-Kirchner & de la Maza 1996; Albrechtsen et al. 2006).

Often drill and mandrill hunting is with dogs, which Mandrillus try to avoid by fleeing into trees where they are then killed with firearms, as they cannot easily move from tree to tree (Harrison 1988; Mitani 1990; Gadsby 1992; Gonzalez-Kirchner & de la Maza 1996; Cox 1997; Steiner et al. 2002-2003). Sometimes entire groups can be killed in this fashion and the species are particularly vulnerable to commercial hunting because of the efficacy of this method (Gadsby & Jenkins Jr. 1997-1998). In these cases, the take may be skewed towards adult males as they are significantly larger than females (and represent more meat), and as a result, both social and reproductive dynamics of the species are particularly affected (Mitani 1990; Steiner et al. 2002-2003). Hunting at a particular locality may also be by both local and non-local individuals and the cull may be locally or non-locally consumed (Steiner et al. 2002-2003). Non-local hunters in Cameroon hunt M. leucophaeus intensively and in a systematic fashion (Gadsby & Jenkins Jr. 1997-1998).

Threat: Persecution

M. sphinx sometimes crop-raid on plantain crops and are sometimes killed as pests (Mitani 1990).





Content last modified: October 14, 2009

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Joanna Setchell.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2009 October 14. Primate Factsheets: Drill (Mandrillus) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 August 17.