Distribution and conservation status of the golden monkey Cercopithecus mitis kandti in Rwanda
Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to primate populations globally. The Endangered golden monkey Cercopithecus mitis kandti is only found in two small forest fragments: the Virunga massif in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Gishwati Forest in Rwanda. Little is known about the abundance and distribution of this subspecies, or threats to its survival. During 2007–2018, we collected data along 893.7 km of line transects and 354.2 km of recce trails in
... olcanoes National Park and in Gishwati–Mukura National Park to estimate golden monkey density and examine any threats. In Volcanoes National Park, golden monkeys were found almost exclusively in the bamboo zone, and in Gishwati–Mukura National Park they occurred only in the remnant tropical montane Gishwati Forest. In Volcanoes National Park, density was estimated to be 7.89 (95% CI: 3.85–16.19), 5.41 (2.64–11.08), and 5.47 (3.68–8.14) groups per km2 in 2007, 2011 and 2017–2018, respectively. This corresponds to a total of 4,331 individuals (95% CI: 2,723–5,938) in 2007, 4,487 (2,903–6,071) in 2011 and 4,626 (4,165–5,088) in 2017–2018. In Gishwati Forest, group density averaged 1.98 (95% CI: 1.27–3.16) per km2, corresponding to 172 (95% CI: 154–190) individuals in 2017–2018. Survey results from Volcanoes National Park suggest that the golden monkey population has been stable during 2007–2018. Limited habitat, illegal activities such as harvesting of bamboo and firewood, and the presence of feral dogs, threaten the golden monkey in Rwanda and require continued monitoring. The development of a conservation action plan is a priority to protect this species.