The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has studied golden monkeys in Rwanda for years, because they are a critical part of gorilla habitat, as well as a fascinating facet of the forest’s biodiversity. They are also an endangered species and it is believed that their population is declining.
Our golden monkey research was initiated by our biodiversity research program manager Deogratias Tuyisingize, who first arrived in our field programs as an intern in 2004 and is now completing his PhD research through the University of Rwanda on conservation of the golden monkey and its habitat, as well as overseeing our expanded biodiversity programs.
This month, much of this work culminated in the first-ever regional golden monkey conservation action plan workshop, in which stakeholders from the parks where golden monkeys live, as well as other conservationists and community representatives, were in attendance. Tuyisingize and other experts presented information on golden monkey ecology, including population trends, habitat and diets, threats and other issues.
The workshop was the first step in creating an action plan, following input from all participants and an additional meeting early next year to determine a five-year strategy, with specific objectives, timelines, budgets and responsibilities of the various organizations. In addition, international institutions and researchers will also be invited to join in the process.
Research efforts increasing
In addition to collecting research directly, remote cameras were recently added to the golden monkey data collection efforts. “Camera traps can help us collect information on elusive phenomena, operate in difficult areas, and can work day and night,” says Tuyisingize.
This will help to answer some key questions about the animals’ social system, he says, and may also provide information on natural predators, such as chimpanzees and carnivores. In addition, the cameras may be able to detail the frequency of any illegal human activities in those areas, including the species that are being hunted.