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Saving Sanje Mangabeys in Tanzania

Posted on: 30 November, 2023

Bristol Zoological Society has been working to project Sanje mangabeys, an Endangered primate species found only in Tanzania, since 2014.

In the south-central mountains of Tanzania lies the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. High in the Eastern Arc Mountains, the region is often described as the Galapagos of Africa, because of its high level of endemic species (species only found in one area or country). This is the home of the Sanje mangabey.

A recent survey has assessed the total population of Sanje mangabeys to be around 4,000 individuals. In recent years, this species has been facing many specific threats, including illegal hunting, habitat loss through land conversion to agricultural land, and a corresponding growth of the human population in surrounding regions. The species’ limited range, high level of threats and declining population has meant we at Bristol Zoological Society have made it one of our target species for conservation action. 

We have been working within the Udzungwa Mountain region to help develop our understanding of key concepts that will better inform and promote our conservation efforts.

We’ve taken a two-fold approach to help protect this species;

Firstly, we want to improve our understanding of the factors that influence birth rates and population trends. This information will help us to identify variables that might cause a direct decrease to the Sanje mangabey population. We’re also working to expand the number of mangabey troops we’re monitoring, meaning we can better track and predict population trends. This data will then allow us to model the future viability of the species. Combined, these two actions mean we’ll be able to take bespoke action to help conserve the species.

Secondly, we’re also supporting in-country programmes working with local communities to help protect this species. A key programme is the community-led anti-poaching patrols in the relatively under-protected Uzungwa Scarp Nature Reserve where the mangabeys are found. These patrols both actively protect mangabeys from being poached, and provide alternative livelihoods to neighbouring communities.

This integral information will allow conservationists like us to make evidence-based decisions to allocate resources to initiatives supported by our in-country partners. The Society is already working in this region to support other initiatives including managing invasive tree populations and other anti-poaching patrols. Integrating a thorough understanding of the Sanje mangabey into our Tanzanian conservation programs will help us make a direct and measurable difference to this highly worthy conservation cause. 

Oliver Beasley

Lecturer in Conservation Science

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Bristol Zoo Project is part of Bristol Zoological Society, a conservation and education charity working on projects around the world with the aim of Saving Wildlife Together.