The Sooty Mangabey (Cercocebus atys) is an Old World monkey found in forests from Senegal east to Ghana. While overall rated as Near Threatened, the eastern race lunulatus, also known as the White-crowned or White-collared Mangabey (leading to easy confusion with the Collared Mangabey), is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
It is believed that a strain of the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus
(SIV) jumped from this species to humans
to become the HIV-2 virus
. The HIV-1
strain came from the Common Chimpanzee
strain of SIV.
The Sooty Mangabey can also contract leprosy, as can humans, the Nine-banded Armadillo, the Common Chimpanzee, and the Crab-eating Macaque.
Habitat and ecology
The Sooty Mangabey lives in both old growth
and secondary forests
as well as in flooded, dry, swamp, mangrove
, and gallery forests. The primate is arboreal
. They are omnivores
whose diet includes primarily fruits and seeds, sometimes feeding on small animals. They live in social groups of four to twelve individuals, but occasionally groups as large as 95 individuals have been recorded.
There are two distinctive subspecies
of this mangabey
, and it is possible they should be considered separate species. Both were formerly considered subspecies
of a widespread Cercocebus torquatus
- Cercocebus atys atys (west of the Sassandra River)
- White-collared (or White-crowned) Mangabey, Cercocebus atys lunulatus (east of the Sassandra River)