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Sooty mangabey
Cercocebus atys

This sheet covers the "sooty mangabey" (C. a. atys) and the "white-naped mangabey" (C. a. lunulatus)


CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: C. atys: VU (What is Red List?)
Key: VU = Vulnerable
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

Cercocebus atys
Photo: Kathelijne Koops

The IUCN Primate Specialist Group lists the white-naped mangabey (C.a.lunulatus) as one of the world's 25 most endangered primates for the years 2004-2006 (Mittermeier et al. 2006). In general, C. a. lunulatus is in far worse shape than C. a. atys. In eastern Ivory Coast and western Ghana, it has been almost completely eliminated (WS McGraw pers. comm.).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Habitat destruction and hunting are the two most profound threats to the survival of the sooty mangabey (McGraw 2007b). Deforestation continues rapidly in many cases, averaging a decline between 1990 and 2000 at a yearly rate of between .2% and 3.1% of the total forest in the nations in which the sooty mangabey is found. This deforestation is especially bad in Serra Leone and the Côte d'Ivoire, which both averaged around a 3% yearly decline in forest cover (FAO 2001).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

In a study of primate hunting in and around the Taï National Park, the current hunting harvest rate of sooty mangabeys is more than three times that which would allow the species to reproductively sustain itself (Refisch & Koné 2005a). For example, in 1999 the primate bushmeat cull from the Taï area was around a quarter of a million kilograms, mostly taken by professional hunters (Refisch & Koné 2005b). In recent years, the area has seen a rise in hunting due to four factors; an increase in the demand for wild meat, large scale commercial hunting increasing as a viable income source, hunting technology improved resulting in more efficient hunting, and finally, human immigration to the area has diluted former taboos against hunting primates in the region (Refisch & Koné 2005a). Also, due to a lack of domestic animals, often bushmeat is the only source of animal protein in local diets (Refisch & Koné 2005b). Some suggested solutions to the threats to the sooty mangabey include joint anti-poaching patrols with community members and park rangers working together, implementation of programs to help increase the use of domestic animals and reduce the demand for bushmeat, a complete ban on hunting including practical measures for enforcement, the curtailment of farming within protected areas and more guards for protected habitats (Herbinger & Tounkara 2004; Refisch & Koné 2005a, 2005b).




Content last modified: December 2, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by W. Scott McGraw.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 December 2. Primate Factsheets: Sooty mangabey (Cercocebus atys) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 October 18.