NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The Skyes Monkeys

Sykes monkey posing
Sykes monkey posing
Image: GARETH JONES

In the past, wildlife roamed freely in the Nairobi area, as there was very little human development. However, in the last 50 years, the city has grown dramatically and many species now only reside inside the Nairobi National Park (gazetted 1946).

However, due to the fact that Nairobi district has so many large trees, some monkey species (Sykes & Vervet) have continued to move over this area.

Early one morning, we drove down into the valley below the Mokoyet picnic site. A family group of Sykes monkeys were up above us in the large fig trees. A large male was silhouetted against the skyline.

They were very relaxed and not frightened. As we watched them, I reflected on when and where they were seen in the Nairobi Park. Over the years, they have been mainly seen in the Langata forest area, and also frequenting the area around the KWS headquarters.

About a year ago, I observed a large troop of about 40 individuals. They are also often seen in the surrounding suburbs around Nairobi district, like Karen/Langata, and on various golf courses, especially where there are large trees. They are wonderful to watch at times. However, they can be a bit of a nuisance when they enter homes to grab food like fruit.

Sykes' monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis), also known as the white-throated monkey or Samango monkey, is an Old World monkey found between Ethiopia and South Africa, including south and east Democratic Republic of Congo.

It has been considered conspecific with the blue monkey. There are 12 subspecies of Sykes' Monkey. In the Nairobi area, Cercopithecus albogularis kolbi (Mount Kenya Sykes' monkey) is found.

Next time you are in the park, be on the lookout for these interesting creatures.