Procolobus badius waldroni

The little monkey with the funny name was a small primate living in certain certain area of West Africa - the high-canopy rainforests of western Ghana and eastern Côte d'Ivoire. The fur is black, but reddish on forehead and thighs. It lived in big, noisy family groups. The last confirmed sighting of a live monkey was in 1978.

Miss Waldron's Red Colobus Monkey was discovered - scientifically, that is - in 1933 by a British museum collector, Willoughby P. Lowe. He named it after a certain F. Waldron, who was travelling with him. Some sources say she was his field assistant, but nothing is really known about her.

In October 2000, the Miss Waldron's Red Colobus Monkey was declared extinct. The announcement followed a six-year hunt for it in the monkey's heartland. Neither local hunters nor the group of scientists looking for it could find any trace of the red and black primate. However, recent finds indicate that all may not be lost for Miss Waldron's monkey - not yet.

In February 2004, an anthropologist belonging to the team announced that the monkey may not be totally gone, after all. W. Scott McGraw had continued the search in West Africa, and had been supplied with several pieces of evidence by the locals. One offered him the skin of what appeared to be a Miss Waldron's monkey, another a tail, later tested and found to contain the wanted monkey's DNA. McGraw also received a photograph of a whole monkey - unfortunately, this too was slaughtered. In case you haven't already figured it out, hunting is one of the main reason Miss Waldron's monkey is nearly out of the picture. It's bright enough to spot, large enough to shoot, and popular food among locals and visitors alike. However, what all these dead monkeys implies is that there could still be live ones somewhere.

The Ivorian hunter who provided the skin to McGraw said the monkey had been the sole red monkey in a group of black and white colobus monkeys. This explains why the scientists looking for the monkeys were unable to find them. The Miss Waldron's Red Colobus Monkey typically lives in family groups of about 20, chattering characteristically amongst themselves. If the monkeys no longer live in such groups, obviously they would be more difficult for the scientists to spot. Sadly, this also means that if Miss Waldron's monkey isn't extinct yet, it isn't far from it, either.

Hunting may have pushed the species over the brink, but the monkey was already badly squeezed by the shrinking of its habitat. The rainforests of the Ivory Coast and Ghana have diminished dramatically, losing out to logging, roadbuilding, and farming. The monkey, unable to breed in captivity, could not be saved by zoos or scientists. If Miss Waldron's Red Colobus Monkey has indeed left us, it will be the first anthropoid to have done so in 200 years. There are five more types of red colobus monkey in the world. All of them are rare.

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