The Owl-faced monkeys are also referred as Hamlyn’s monkeys and inhabit areas of Uganda, Rwanda (especially within the north-western corner of the country) and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Have you ever wondered why they are found in such areas? It is because most of the places they inhabit are surrounded by rivers and Lakes, rainforests and Volcano ranges.
However, their primary habitats are the thick forests at altitudes of 900 to 4554 meters (2950 to 15,000 feet) above sea level. Therefore, you are likely to encounter them Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda, throughout eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (from Rivers Epulu to Lukuga and from the Congo River) to Volcanoes National Park (north-western Rwanda). Geographically, they occupy the same habitats as the L’Hoests monkeys (scientifically referred as C. lhoesti) and tend to travel on the ground besides being active at night.
They are scientifically referred as cercopithecus hamlyni and are extremely rare thus little is known or recorded about them. They exhibit sexual dimorphism with the adult males weighing from 7 to 10 kilograms while the females weigh from 4.5 to 6 kilograms. However, the common feature among both sexes is the bare-blue buttocks but mature males are identified by the bright red and blue genitals. Owl-faced monkeys have scent glands on their chests with which they mark their territories.
Their gestation period is five to six months whereby a single offspring is born with cute pink faces that darken as they mature much as there are rare cases of twin births while their breeding season is from May to October. There is always a two-year interval between offsprings.
They are said to be frugivorous and live in small groups or packs comprising of ten individuals or less with one dominant male and a number of females although there is still no data showing them being in monogamous groups.
They are characterized by their dark grey color with white stripes that stretch from the base of the noses to the upper lip thus offering them the owl-like appearance thus the name “owl-faced monkeys”. Their Hamlyn’s monkeys name and the scientific epithet-hamlyni are said to come from the animal dealer who first collected this primate species to the London Zoo. They have dark coat shades on their underbellies, arms and hind limbs where their fur is completely black, so as they are un-detectable to their predators.
The newborns on the other hand have cute pink faces and yellow-brown coats that later turn into black, slowly changing and darkening as they reach maturity. They have an exceptional pair of feet and hands with long fingers and toe bones, which enable them to get strong grip and is very useful for traveling on wet bamboo branches.
In conclusion, the Hamlyn’s or owl-faced monkeys are one of the interesting primate species that can be spotted within Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo during African safaris.