Patas Monkey - Fastest on the Ground
The patas monkey is found in the grasslands and semi-desert regions, stretching from west to east Africa. Unlike most other monkeys, the patas monkeys do not live primarily in trees or heavily forested areas. Instead, they prefer to live on open land.
Their diet consists of seeds, gum, insects and tubers. Due to shrinking habitat from over-grazing by domestic cattle, and land being used for farms, patas monkeys have been forced to raid farms for food, eating all sorts of grain, including cash crops like cotton. As a result, they have been targeted as crop pests, and many of them are hunted – for food, and to control the loss of crops.
Males are much larger than females, growing to a height of 83 cm (33 inches). They have reddish-brown hair on their backs, and white and grey hair on their bellies, legs, arms and faces. The white hair under the nose forms a “mustache”.
Patas monkeys have evolved in many ways to survive on open ground. They run very fast, up to 34 mph (55 km/h) – this makes them the fastest primates on land. when threatened, they do climb trees to escape from predators, but primarily rely on their running speed.
Because of the dangers associated with living on the ground in Africa, they breed very quickly to counter-act the higher mortality rate they have, in comparison to other primates.
Adapting to Survive
The natural habitat of the monkey has changed over the last couple of hundred years, with much of the savannah being converted to farmland. As a result, they have adapted to human settlements and have learned to forage from agricultural land. When they raid farm fields, their lookouts use windmill and fence posts to scout for danger. they have also become accustomed to using farm irrigation as a source of water.
Patas monkeys live in groups of around 10 individuals but sometimes in larger packs. The group is made up of adult females and their young, along with a single adult male. When males reach sexual maturity, they leave the group, and join up with male-only groups. It is only during the mating season that the males briefly join the female groups.
The main group is dominated by females, with a mildly structured hierarchy. The dominant female decides when and where to move to, while the rest of the group follows her lead, including the lone male.