Evaluating the habitat of the critically endangered Kipunji monkey
Effective conservation of threatened species requires a good understanding of their habitat. Most primates are threatened by tropical forest loss. One population of the critically endangered kipunji monkey Rungwecebus kipunji occurs in a restricted part of one forest in southern Tanzania. This restricted range is something of an enigma. We collated woody vegetation data to assess habitat quality in and around the core kipunji range (Vikongwa) compared to other nearby forests. Habitat quality in Vikongwa was high compared to other regional and African forests, in that tree stem density, basal area, species richness and availability of kipunji dietary species were all comparatively high. However, the nearby Sanje forest, where the kipunji is absent, had comparable habitat to Vikongwa. We concur with previous research that the kipunji is dependent on old growth forest. However, the availability of comparable vegetation in at least one nearby forest suggests that habitat is not the only reason for the kipunji’s restricted range.
Keywords: biodiversity; ecosystem health; liana; papionid; Udzungwa