MANDRILL (Mandrillus sphinx)
Pronounced: (Man-dril-lus sfingks) Order:
Kingdom: Animalia Family:
Phylum: Chordata Genus: Mandrillus
Class: Mammalia Species: Sphinx

Like an exotic tribal mask, the Mandrill male’s vivid red and blue face colouring, not to mention their colourful rumps, immediately make us think of tropical forests and deep jungles. Their colouring gets even more intense when they’re excited. Females are colourful, but not as vivid – that gift is only for the largest, most mature males, to signal their status. While body colours may help them get mates, their colourful rears may also be especially useful when following one another through thick, dark rainforest brush. Grunting as they travel also helps a group of wandering mandrills stay in touch.

These are the world’s largest monkeys, growing up to three feet long and over 100 pounds, although most are closer to 40 pounds. They are found only in pockets of African rainforest and thick bush close to the equator, such as in south-western Cameroon, south-western Congo, western Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.

Mandrills are shy and non-aggressive. Although males have long canine teeth, which they will use in defense if they have to, they typically show them in a toothy grin as a friendly gesture to other mandrills. When they are angry, males slap the ground hard, and may also scratch their arms or legs while staring at the threat. You can tell they’re in a playful mood when they shake their heads and shoulders and show their teeth while chattering. But read the signs carefully: they also flash their teeth when angry, lowering their heads and sometimes yawning.

Females have one baby at a time, about every two years; it clings to her stomach as she walks.
Mandrills are omnivorous, foraging on the ground for insects and other small animals, roots, berries and nuts. Luckily, they have a built in cheek pocket, to store food for a snack later on. They climb into the trees to sleep in family groups (called troops), usually made up of one male and up to 20 females, but they pick a different spot each night. Often troops merge together to form groups of hundreds of mandrills in one location.

Due to rainforest destruction and hunting, mandrills are threatened. They are running out of habitat in which to forage and their numbers are dwindling. In addition, their meat is considered a delicacy to some people and they are hunted despite their protected status. Their closest relatives, Drills (Mandrillus leucocophaues) are critically endangered.


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