The Wolf’s Mona Monkeys are also referred as Wolf’s guenon and are categorized under the Cercopithecidae family just like Mangabeys, Macaques and baboons and are categorized under the Cercopithecus genus together with the Mona monkeys, Campbell’s Mona monkeys, Crested Mona monkeys, Dent’s Mona monkeys and the Lowe’s Mona monkeys thus making them one of the most fascinating primates species to encounter during African safaris.
They are scientifically known as Cercopithecus wolfi and inhabit areas of Central Africa, in mainly between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo but most importantly occupy the primary and secondary lowland rain forests as well as swamp forests.
Wolf’s Mona Monkeys were first described from the living specimen within the Zoologist Garden at Dresden and was brought in 1887 by Doctor Ludwig Wolf from some areas of Central and western Africa. Therefore, they were described in 1891 and named after the researcher. Unfortunately, the specimen later died on October 1891 and the skeletal characters were described in 1894. The Wolf’s Mona monkeys were previously described as separate sub-species of the Crested Mona monkeys.
Although Wolf’s Mona monkeys are known to be frugivorous, their diet greatly depends on the location and will consume seeds and insects for protein. However since they have no adaptations for consuming leaves, they will only forage on young and easily digestible leaves.
Wolf’s Mona Monkeys are divided into two separate sub-species that include the C.wolfi elegans that inhabit areas between Lomami and Lualaba Rivers as well as the C.wolfi wolfi found between Rivers Congo and Sankuru.
These large primates are very colorful and these colors are usually used for intra-specific communication for recognizing potential mates, individuals and species. They are characterized by their dark grey colors with red saddles on their backs. Their colors also depend on their sub-species with the C.wolfi wolfi with chestnut-colored patches on the middle of their backs while their arms are black, legs red and underparts being yellow sometimes with orange stripes down their flanks.
Their cheek whiskers are yellow, speckled with black and their ear tufts are red. The C.wolfi elegans on the other side have slightly brown backs towards their rumps. Not only that, they have black forearms and their upper arms are speckling pale but their legs are light gray and the undersides are white.
Males of both C.wolfi wolfi and C.wolfi elegans have blue scrotum and interestingly Wolf’s Mona monkeys are marked by sexual dimorphism especially when it comes to body size whereby the males weigh averagely 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) while the females weigh approximately 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) thus the former are almost twice bigger than the latter. However due to their small size, they are very susceptible to predators that usually include leopards and crowned eagles.
They are known to associate with different guenon and non-guenon species especially the red-tailed monkeys, black-crested mangabeys, Angola colobus monkeys, Bonobo and the Allen’s swamp monkeys among others much as there are no viable offsprings or inter-specific mating has been seen or recorded between the other primate species.
Among the different Cercopithcines, the forest guenons including the Wolf’s Mona monkeys have well developed cheek pouches, which are second only to macaques. They live in groups comprising of one male and several females thus there is always competition for the Alpha male position whereas the females live amicably with one another and participate in allo-mothering and grooming. However, both males and females always behave aggressively during inter-group encounters.
The Wolf’s Mona monkeys are very territorial and use calling and aggression if necessary. The females play a significant role in territory defense.