In what may be the longest game of hide and seek in history, researchers from Florida Atlantic University have captured extraordinary video of a new population of Dryas monkeys at the Lomami National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Originally discovered in 1932 and known for “mastering the art of hiding” deep within the basin of the Congo, the elusive species was thought to be nearing extinction primarily due to decades of unregulated hunting.
Remarkable news since the International Union for Conservation of Nature has estimated that there may be as few as 200 Dryas left in existence and lists the colorful critters as critically endangered; the number may change due to this potentially game changing find.
A team of researchers, in collaboration with the Lukuru Foundation, uncovered the unprecedented footage from camera traps that they strategically placed throughout the rainforest.
“Dryas monkeys are drawn to dense thickets and flooded areas,” said Kate Detwiler, PhD, a primatologist and an assistant professor of anthropology at FAU. “When threatened, they quickly disappear into a tangle of vines and foliage.”
Footage filmed high in the sky, and deep within the trees, shows a group of Dryas monkeys hanging around at what appears to be their home base. Until now, the Dryas were believed to solely occupy a small area of the Congo which is hundreds of miles away from the location where they were now found.
“It was an incredible experience to work in the canopy of such a remote site and to get the first camera-trap videos of an extremely rare and elusive species,” added FAU Master’s candidate Daniel Alempijevic who set the camera-traps.
“The Congo Basin rainforest is the second-largest rainforest in the world, and contains some of the least known species on the planet, many of which are threatened from hunting pressure and deforestation,” continued Detwiler. “Our goal is to document where new Dryas populations live and develop effective methods to monitor population size over time to ensure their protection. Understanding where they reside is important, because the animals living inside the Lomami National Park are protected, as it is illegal to hunt.”