- Adult male lesula monkey discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image: M. Emetshu. PLOS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044271.g007.
Dr. John Hart, Scientific Director of the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation in Kinshasa, discovered the colorful lesula monkey while sifting through photos brought back from a 2007 field expedition to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shown in the photo was a little girl named Georgette feeding one. The monkeys have blond manes and upper chests with a bright red patch on their lower backs. After extensive genetic analyses and anatomical studies, Dr. Hart and colleagues named this new species Cercopithecus lomamiensis, or “lesula” as it is known by locals. Male lesula monkeys weigh up to 15 pounds whereas females weigh about half as much. The males are distinguished not only by size, but also by buttocks and testicles that are aquamarine.
Georgette’s uncle had found the monkey while on a hunting trip and brought it home where it lived in the yard and local village for a time. Unfortunately, when the animal went missing one day, it was suspected that the monkey ended up on someone’s dinner table. Bush meat is very common in this area. Researchers are now studying how to protect the lesula monkeys from ending up as the main course.
Hart JA, Detwiler KM, Gilbert CC, Burrell AS, Fuller JL, Emetshu M, Hart TB, Vosper A, Sargis EJ, Tosi AJ. Lesula: A new species of Cercopithecus monkey endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo and implications for conservation of Congo’s central basin. PLoS One. 7(9): e44271. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044271