The Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus Kandti) is a species of Old World monkey found in the Virunga Volcanic Mountains of East Africa also known as Virunga Massif, a conservation area comprising four National parks: Mgahinga Gorilla National park, in South-Western Uganda; Volcanoes National Park, in North-West Rwanda; and Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were discovered by Richard Kandt who was a German explorer and the colonial governor in Rwanda before the First World War
They are the second endangered primate species in the Albertine rift next to Mountain Gorillas.
Golden monkeys live in groups of 30 to 80 individuals depending on the altitude. The bigger groups live on the slopes of the volcanoes while smaller groups live at higher altitudes. Unlike other primates, in Golden monkeys, females take care of the territory and the Young-lings (Infants).
Females initiate the mating ritual which is quite progressive. However, the males have polygamous relationships and can mate with all the females in the group.
The gestation period is five months when a baby is born with fur and eyes open. The young will be taken care of by the mother until two years of age before being independent.
Golden monkeys are herbivores. They feed mainly on young bamboo leaves, fruits, bamboo branchlets, bamboo shoots, invertebrates, flowers, and shrubs.
Golden monkeys’ predators have crowned eagles and golden cats but the biggest threat comes from humans who illegally cut bamboo.
Golden monkeys can weave bamboo branches making a nest that can accommodate four monkeys sleeping together. They use it to create comfort and protection from coldness. Unlike gorillas which use the nest only once, golden monkeys can use the nest for some days depending on the availability of food in the area
There are about 4000 individuals left in the world and tourists can view them in Mgahinga and Volcanoes national parks where some groups have been habituated to tourism.