Drill baby drill! The fate of African biodiversity and the monkey you’ve never heard of

Commentary by: Zach Fitzner

Equatorial Guinea is not a country that stands very large in the American consciousness. In fact most Americans think you mean Papua New Guinea when you mention it or are simply baffled. When I left for Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea, I also knew almost nothing about the island, the nation, or the Bioko drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus poensis). The subspecies of drill is unique to Bioko Island and encountering them was an equally unique experience. I initially went to Bioko as a turtle research assistant but ended up falling in love with the entire ecosystem, especially the Bioko drills as I tagged along with drill researchers.

Bioko itself looks a bit like a bean; if the bean was 779 square miles, made out of dormant volcanoes, covered in lush rainforest and floating in the Atlantic off Africa’s west coast that is. The island is part of the Cameroonian line, a chain of dormant volcanoes extending west from the mainland. Ten thousand years ago rising sea levels cut off a peninsula, creating Bioko, which is the main island of Equatorial Guinea, a small Spanish-speaking nation in equatorial, western Africa. Bioko has a population of about 260,000 spread throughout some 26 cities arranged mostly near the coast.

But Bioko is also a refuge for wildlife, including seven species of monkey and eleven subspecies, hidden away in the rough interior of the island. Wildlife biodiversity and endemism (species found only on the island) are high because Bioko is in the tropics, and an island with a relatively low human population. The Bioko drill is arguably the island’s flagship species…

(read more: MongaBay)                                (photos: Drill Films)

In July 2008, a mature male Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx), a large species of baboon, walks through a forest during dry season in Lope National Park, Gabon. Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, mandrills are threatened by human settlement on their rainforest homeland. Considered by some in Africa to be a delicacy, they’re often hunted as bushmeat.
(via: TakePart.org)                  (photo: Anup Shah, Getty Images)

In July 2008, a mature male Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx), a large species of baboon, walks through a forest during dry season in Lope National Park, Gabon. Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, mandrills are threatened by human settlement on their rainforest homeland. Considered by some in Africa to be a delicacy, they’re often hunted as bushmeat.

(via: TakePart.org)                  (photo: Anup Shah, Getty Images)

Two Olive Baboons (Papio anubis) engaged in social grooming, an activity that social animals (including humans) engage in to clean or maintain one another’s body or appearance. Grooming also reinforces social structures, family links, and builds relationships. It has been best studied among primates, but insects, birds, fish, and other mammals are known to engage in it as well.
(via: Wikipedia)     (photo: Muhammad Mahdi Karim)

Two Olive Baboons (Papio anubis) engaged in social grooming, an activity that social animals (including humans) engage in to clean or maintain one another’s body or appearance. Grooming also reinforces social structures, family links, and builds relationships. It has been best studied among primates, but insects, birds, fish, and other mammals are known to engage in it as well.

(via: Wikipedia)     (photo: Muhammad Mahdi Karim)

darwinoid
discoverynews: Wild Drill Monkeys Unable to Deal With Warming Climate

Monkeys called Drills, already an overhunted species, may see a dramatic population decline if their forest home dries out and vegetation becomes sparser amid warming temperatures, researchers report…
keep reading
Photo: A rare and endangered monkey in an African equatorial rainforest, the wild drill. Credit: Corbis

discoverynewsWild Drill Monkeys Unable to Deal With Warming Climate

Monkeys called Drills, already an overhunted species, may see a dramatic population decline if their forest home dries out and vegetation becomes sparser amid warming temperatures, researchers report…

keep reading

Photo: A rare and endangered monkey in an African equatorial rainforest, the wild drill. Credit: Corbis

'Stem Cell Zoo' May Aid Endangered Species
by Jennifer Walsh

Stem cells are quickly becoming an important tool for human medical treatments, and researchers are betting they will also be a useful tool for zoo animals. They are working to create stem cell lines from zoo animals, for use in treating animal diabetes and other ailments as well as helping the animals reproduce. The scientists have already created a “frozen zoo,” which contains different types of cells from every animal there, and now they are putting together a “stem cell zoo.”
"There are only two animals in it," study researcher Inbar Friedrich Ben-Nun, of The Scripps Research Institute, said in a statement, "but we have the start of a new zoo, the stem cell zoo."

Stem cells are prized, because they can be turned into any type of cell in the body, a characteristic called pluripotency. The cells can even be turned into sperm or egg cells, and used in assisted reproduction to make more individuals of the species…
(read more: Live Science)  
(photo: Drill (baboon), Mandrillus leucophaeus, San Diego Zoo)

'Stem Cell Zoo' May Aid Endangered Species

by Jennifer Walsh

Stem cells are quickly becoming an important tool for human medical treatments, and researchers are betting they will also be a useful tool for zoo animals. They are working to create stem cell lines from zoo animals, for use in treating animal diabetes and other ailments as well as helping the animals reproduce. The scientists have already created a “frozen zoo,” which contains different types of cells from every animal there, and now they are putting together a “stem cell zoo.”

"There are only two animals in it," study researcher Inbar Friedrich Ben-Nun, of The Scripps Research Institute, said in a statement, "but we have the start of a new zoo, the stem cell zoo."

Stem cells are prized, because they can be turned into any type of cell in the body, a characteristic called pluripotency. The cells can even be turned into sperm or egg cells, and used in assisted reproduction to make more individuals of the species…

(read more: Live Science)  

(photo: Drill (baboon), Mandrillus leucophaeus, San Diego Zoo)


Kenyan Camera Traps Catch Wildlife:  Baboons
by Nat. Geo. Staff

A troop of yellow baboons looks on curiously as a camera trap goes off in the Boni-Dodori forest in a recent picture. For the project, 52 camera traps were installed throughout 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) of the Boni, Dodori, and Lunghi reserves along the Kenyan coast.

(via: National Geo)   (image: Zoological Soc. London)

Kenyan Camera Traps Catch Wildlife:  Baboons

by Nat. Geo. Staff

A troop of yellow baboons looks on curiously as a camera trap goes off in the Boni-Dodori forest in a recent picture. For the project, 52 camera traps were installed throughout 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) of the Boni, Dodori, and Lunghi reserves along the Kenyan coast.

(via: National Geo)   (image: Zoological Soc. London)