Sooty Mangabey

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 and diurnal. 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)


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