The Vervet monkey has a black face with a white fringe of hair, while the overall body colour is mostly grizzled-grey. The males of all species have a pale blue scrotum and a red penis. The vervet monkey is diurnal and social, living in groups of up to 72.There is a clear order of dominance among individuals within the group.

It uses different sounds to warn of different types of predators. It has distinct calls to warn of the sighting of a leopard, a snake, or an eagle. These sounds are considered a proto-language by many ethologists.

The young appear to have an innate tendency to make these alarm calls, and adult monkeys seem to give positive reinforcement when the young make the right call, by repeating the alarm. Mothers have been reported to punish the young who give the wrong call.

The vervet monkey eats a wide range of fruits, figs, leaves, seeds and flowers. It also eats birds’ eggs and young chicks, and insects (grasshoppers and termites). In human inhabited environments, it will eat bread and various crops; especially maize.

This photograph appears in the forth coming book Primates of East Africa.

By Andy Gooch, Daily Monitor

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