Black-and-White Colobus Black and White Colubus
Black & White Colobus

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Eastern black & white colobus, guereza
Genus Species
Colobus (“colobus” is derived from the Greek word for “mutilated,” because unlike other monkeys, they do not have large thumbs ) guereza (named for researcher): there are 8 subspecies currently recognized

Fast Facts

A small monkey with a U-shaped mantle of long white fur that descends from its shoulders and around its back. They also have whiskers, a bushy tail. White fur surrounds their black face.
Male: Head and body length: 675 mm (26.6 in.); Tail length: 667 mm (26.3 in.)
Female: Head and body length: 615 mm (24.2 in.); Tail length: 687 mm (27.0 in.)
Male: 13.5 kg (29.8 lbs.)
Female: 7.9 to 9.2 kg (17.4 to  20.3 lbs.)
Colobus monkeys are strictly leaf-eaters and spend most of their time in the treetops, preferring to eat young leaves found there. However, their complex stomachs enable them to digest mature or toxic foliage that other monkeys cannot.
Approximately 6 months; the newborn colobus monkey has a pink face and is covered with white fur. At about 1 month, it begins to change color, gaining the black-and-white adult coloration at about 3 months.
Sexual Maturity
4 to 6 years; there is no distinct breeding season, although most mating probably occurs during the rainy season. A female will give birth about every 20 months.
Life Span
Average approximately 22 years
This widespread species ranges from Nigeria and Cameroon and then eastward through the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo. It can also be found in small pockets in Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Lives in all types of closed forests, including montane and gallery forests. They can also be found in areas with large bamboo stands.
Global: Unknown; may be locally abundant in many areas and the population is not severely fragmented
IUCN: Least concern; may be locally threatened in parts of its range, this widespread species is not thought to be declining fast enough to place it in a higher category of threat
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Baby colobus are born completely white.The Old World monkeys of the subfamily Colobinae have a specially adapted stomach that is sacculated and supports bacterial colonies. These bacteria make it possible for digestion of cellulose in their diet of leaves, unripe fruit, and seeds.
  2. Ruminant-like digestive system has enabled leaf-eaters, such as colobus, to occupy niches that are inaccessible to other primates.
  3. They live in territorial groups of approximately nine individuals, based upon a single male with a number of female and their offspring.
  4. The Old World monkeys of the subfamily Colobinae have a specially adapted stomach that is sacculated and supports bacterial colonies. These bacteria make it possible for digestion of cellulose in their diet of leaves, unripe fruit, and seeds.
  5. There are documented cases of "allo" mothering, which means members of the troop other than the infant's biological mother care for it.
  6. The differences between monkeys and apes are easy to see once you know what to look for. Apes do not have a tail and are generally larger than most other primates. They have a more upright body posture as well. Apes rely more on vision than on smell and have a short broad nose rather than a snout, as Old World monkeys do.
  7. Old World monkeys are generally from Africa and Asia while New World monkeys are from the Americas. In Old World monkeys, the nostrils face downward and are narrow. New World monkeys have round nostrils facing to the side. Old World primates are usually larger than New World's. Many of the Old World monkeys are partly terrestrial.

Ecology and Conservation

Colobus are important for seed dispersal through their sloppy eating habits as well as through their digestive system. In addition, they are prey for forest predators such as leopards and large eagles.

Colobus Monkeys live in troops of about 5 to 10 animals. Each troop may consist of a dominant male, several females, and their young. The troop has a well-defined territory, which is defended from other groups

Colobus struggle from the bushmeat trade, logging, and habitat destruction. In Africa, forest is often referred to as 'the bush', thus wildlife and the meat derived from it is referred to as 'bushmeat.' This term applies to all wildlife species, including threatened and endangered, used for meat. Unfortunately, nearly all African primates fall victim to the trade.


Anderson, Sydney. 1982. Simon and Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon and Schuster, New York.

Estes, DE. 1992. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Univ. Of Calif. Press. Berkley, CA.

Preston-Mafham, Rod and Ken. 1999. Primates of the World. Sterling Pub., New York.

Rowe, Noel. 1996. The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Pogonios Press, NY.

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force.

Chaffee Zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo.

African Wildlife Foundation – Colobus Monkey Species Profile. Downloaded 03 October 2018.

Kingdon, J., Struhsaker, T., Oates, J.F., Hart, J. & Groves, C.P. 2008. Colobus guereza. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T5143A11116447. Downloaded on 03 October 2018