Colobus monkeys belong to the family Cercopithecidae, subfamily Colobinae. The actual classification of red colobus at specific and subspecific level is equivocal (Verheyen, 1962; Dandelot, 1968; Rahm, 1970; Kingdon, 1971; Struhsaker, 1975). For instance, the Zanzibar red colobus is considered a distinct species by Verheyen (1962) and Dandelot (1968), while others classify it at subspecific level (Rahm, 1970; Kingdon, 1971; Struhsaker, 1975). This problem arises as a result of the allopatric distribution and high affinities of the red colobus. The classification adopted in this chapter follows that of Rahm (1970), Struhsaker (1975, 1980), Kingdon (1971, 1981) and Rodgers (1981), in which all the 14 red colobus types are maintained as subspecies of Colobus badius Kerr.
The 14 subspecies of red colobus occur in a patch-like allopatric distribution across tropical Africa from Senegal to Zanzibar (Rahm, 1970; Kingdon, 1971; Struhsaker, 1975). Most populations are primarily adapted to mature low and medium altitude rain, riverine and groundwater forests (Struhsaker, 1975; Rodgers, 1981). However, some, such as Colobus badius temminckii (Kuhl), also occur in savanna woodland (Struhsaker, 1975; Starin, 1981). The Zanzibar red colobus are also found in mangrove forest, thickets of secondary growth and sometimes in cultivated areas: habitats that are also reported for the Gambia colobus C. b. temminckii (Starin, 1981).
Five allopatric subspecies of red colobus occur in East Africa. Three of these are found in eastern African forests (Figure 12.1).
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