Red-bellied guenon (Cercopithecus erythrogaster)

Red-bellied guenon ssp. erythrogaster feeding
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Red-bellied guenon fact file

Red-bellied guenon description

GenusCercopithecus (1)

The red-bellied guenon (Cercopithecus erythrogaster) is a little-known primate with a mousy brown coat and a reddish-grey underbelly (2) (4), a feature which both its common and scientific name refer to; the scientific name of this species, erythrogaster, originates from the Greek words ‘erythros’  meaning ‘red’ and ‘gaster’ meaning ‘belly’ (5). The red-bellied guenon has a black face with a contrasting white beard and throat (2) (4) and, like all guenons, this monkey has a roundish head, a slight build, long hind limbs, a long tail, and cheek pouches for storing food (6). The name ‘guenon’ comes from the French word for ‘fright’ and refers to the baring of teeth when these monkeys are excited or distressed (6).

Also known as
red-bellied monkey, white-throated guenon, White-throated monkey.
Cercopithèque À Ventre Roux.
Head-body length: 46 cm (2)
Male weight: 4.1 kg (2)
Female weight: 2.4 kg (2)

Red-bellied guenon biology

The red-bellied guenon is a social animal which lives in troops containing between 5 and 30 individuals (1) (6). Guenon troops generally comprise a single dominant adult male, a number of adult females and their young (6).

Although the breeding biology of this species is not fully understood, it is likely to be similar to that of other guenon species, which typically mate during July to September and give birth to a single young after a gestation period of around six months (6). The young guenon clings to the underside of its mother as they travel through the forest, with their tails entwined (6).

Guenons are diurnal primates, mainly active in the early morning or late afternoon (6). The red-bellied guenon feeds predominantly on fruits and seeds, but it also eats leaves, the quantity of which increases when fruit is in short supply, and supplements its diet with small birds, reptiles and insects (6) (7).


Red-bellied guenon range

The red-bellied guenon occurs in scattered populations in south-western Nigeria, southern Benin and Togo (1).


Red-bellied guenon habitat

The arboreal red-bellied guenon inhabits moist primary and secondary forest often near a river or stream, where it spends much of its time in the canopy (1) (2) (6).


Red-bellied guenon status

The red-bellied guenon is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3). Subspecies: the red-bellied monkey (C. e. erythrogaster) is classified as Endangered (EN) and the Nigerian white-throated guenon (C. e. pococki) is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Red-bellied guenon threats

Habitat destruction is regarded as the greatest threat to the red-bellied guenon (1) (8). Forest within this species’ range has already been heavily degraded and the remaining patches of forest remain threatened by timber extraction and conversion to agricultural land (1). In addition, the red-bellied guenon is hunted by local people for meat, and without hunting restrictions this will continue to have a negative impact on this rare primate (1) (4).


Red-bellied guenon conservation

The red-bellied guenon occurs in a number of forest reserves (1), including the Okumu Forest Wildlife Sanctuary, which is an area of around 1,082 square kilometres designed specifically to protect the red-bellied guenon by preventing poaching and deforestation in the area (9). However, greater protection is required for its remaining forest habitat, along with hunting restrictions (1), if the future of this attractive primate is to be secured.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To find out about wildlife conservation in Nigeria see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
Active during the day.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Primary forest is forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2010)
  2. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. CITES (October, 2010)
  4. Hildyard, A. (Ed.) (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Tarrytown, New York.
  5. Dwight, J. (1919) The name “erythrogaster” and others. The Auk, 36(1): 116-118.             
  6. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  7. National Research Council (2003) Nutrient Requirements of Nonhuman Primates. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
  8. Beacham, W. and Beetz, K.H. (1998) Beacham’s Guide to International Endangered Species: Volume 1. Beacham Publishing Corporation, Florida.
  9. Choker, B.A. (1992) Environmental pressure groups and habitat protection in the developing world: The case of Nigeria. The Environmentalist, 12(3): 169-180. 

Image credit

Red-bellied guenon ssp. erythrogaster feeding  
Red-bellied guenon ssp. erythrogaster feeding

© Wendy Altherr

Wendy Altherr


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