Jul 21, 2019 | Updated: 09:46 AM EDT

They’re ALIVE—With a Snapshot Researchers Reveal That Bouvier’s Red Colobus Monkeys Survived

Apr 17, 2015 12:49 PM EDT

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With the death of three endangered sperm whales this week, the news this week surrounding conservation efforts has been rather bleak. But with the snap of a flash and a near-perfect picture moment, researchers in the Congo's newest national park are turning the tide. And the announcement of a long-lost species comes with even better news-it appears that there's a baby on-board too for the field researchers' record-breaking findings.

Believed to have perished and gone extinct more than fifty years ago, the discovery this week of not one, but two Bouvier's Red Colobus monkeys in a nature preserve of the Northern Congo is both fascinating and surprising to primatologists who know little about the small monkeys. An instant snap-shot captured the first-ever photograph of the species, as a mother and infant child were found in the trees of the Ntokou-Pikounda National Park in the Republic of Congo. Guided by locals familiar with the vocalizations and behavior of the rare primate, two independent researchers, Lieven Devreese and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo, made the discovery in the swamp forests along the Bokiba River. And the discovery of a mother, with child, brings hope to conservationists indicating that there may be at least one viable mating pair or maybe more where that came from.

"Our photos are the world's first and confirm that the species is not extinct" Devreese says.

But while the independent researchers were the ones on foot to make the discovery, they weren't alone in their search. Spokespersons with the Wildlife Conservation Society indicated that they aided Devreese and Gobolo with logistical support, providing them with rare unpublished survey records of the monkeys in the Northern Congo-an essential step forward in their search.

"We're very pleased indeed that Lieven and Gaël were able to achieve their objective of not only confirming that Bouvier's Red Colobus still exists, but also managing to get a very clear close-up picture of a mother and infant" spokesperson for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Fiona Maisels says. "Thankfully, many of these colobus monkeys live in the recently gazetted national park and are protected from threats such as logging, agriculture, and roads, all of which can lead to increased hunting."

First described as a species in 1887, Bouvier's Red Colobus (Piliocolobus bouvieri) is a species of monkey endemic to the Republic of Congo which researchers continue to know little about. However, with the discovery of these two conservationists are hopeful that the photograph of the two tiny faces may help bring awareness and protective acts that may re-energize the protection of these species, before it is too late. After all, many already believed that they had lost the species already, once  before.

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