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CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: C. djamdjamensis: VU; C. aethiops, C. cynosuros, C. pygerythrus, C. sabaeus, C. tantalus: LC (What is Red List?)
Key: VU = Vulnerable, LC = Least concern, LC = Least concern, LC = Least concern, LC = Least concern, LC = Least concern
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

Chlorocebus pygerythrus

Most of the African primates living in the dry forests of savanna woodlands, including vervets, have wide geographical distributions and are not threatened at this point (Oates 1996). All species of vervets except for Ch. djamdjamensis are of least concern for going extinct in the near future, but despite this classification, wherever vervets have been studied for long periods of time, data reveals that populations are declining (Cheney et al. 1988; Isbell & Enstam under review).


Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Being geographically widespread and having abundant populations, vervets are subject to hunting in areas where bushmeat is locally important (Starin 1999). They are also kept as pets because they are easily acquired; when hunters kill adult vervets, they keep the dependent infants and sell them as pets (Peeters et al. 2002). While the vervet population has not suffered up to this point, there is concern that the rates of hunting of all primate species are not sustainable. Compared to other monkeys their size, vervets are not commonly exploited for hunting, but they are still under some pressure across their range (Bowen-Jones & Pendry 1999).

While the export of vervets from African countries should be closely monitored by CITES, there is evidence that illegal export and trade of vervets and other monkeys occurs and could be seriously affecting populations, especially in countries like Gambia and Senegal (Starin 1999).

Threat: Persecution

Vervets are among the few primate species that actually thrive when agriculture replaces their natural habitat (Boulton et al. 1996). Because they have become a nuisance species in many places where they interface with human agricultural development, vervets have been treated as vermin and poisoned, shot, trapped, and otherwise killed (Boulton 1996; Jones 1998). They have also been driven out of some areas by being rounded up and killed. In these drives, thousands of vervets are herded and killed for money and though they are not as widespread as they once were, so-called "monkey drives" probably still occur in parts of West Africa (Jones 1998; Starin 1999).

Threat: Changes in Native Species Dynamics

While vervets are not threatened with extinction, some populations are being locally extirpated. At Amboseli National Park, the vervet population has been declining rapidly because of indirect human-induced habitat loss. As the human population surrounding the park has grown, an attempt to separate the park from human areas through fencing has caused the elephant population within the park to be confined. Some 700 elephants are now restricted to the boundaries of the park and rather than moving over huge distances, foraging as they go, the elephants move continuously through the park, destroying saplings and adult trees on which vervets depend for food and shelter (Cheney & Seyfarth 1990). The elephants have effectively destroyed the habitat of the vervets by eliminating sleeping and foraging trees by rivers and watering holes that are necessary for vervets to survive, and the population has continued to dwindle. More than half of the vervet population at Amboseli has died and unless their habitat is restored, they are likely to be completely eliminated from the park (Cheney & Seyfarth 1990).





Content last modified: January 3, 2006

Written by Kristina Cawthon Lang. Reviewed by Karin Enstam.

Cite this page as:
Cawthon Lang KA. 2006 January 3. Primate Factsheets: Vervet (Chlorocebus) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2014 April 17.