The Fate of a Species
In January 2020, right before the eventual lock down of the world's cities and travel due to Covid-19, I visited rural central Ghana to learn about a critically endangered species of monkey: the white-thighed colobus.
White-thighed colobus monkeys have been disappearing from their native ranges across West Africa due to hunting and deforestation. In two small communities in central Ghana, Boabeng and Fiema, white-thighed colobus and a smaller, not currently threatened species, the mona monkey, are considered sacred. The monkeys' status in the communities inspired locals to found the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary in a small area of protected forest to allow the monkeys to live, thus creating the largest known stable population of white-thighed colobus left in the world.
I spent two weeks learning about the monkeys' biological habits from an American scientist conducting research at the sanctuary and interviewing local community members about the monkeys' roles in traditional religious beliefs. I also learned about the complexities of local, community-led conservation amidst economic and environmental pressures which continue to put the monkeys at risk of extinction.
You can read the three stories that came out of this trip to the right, and check out more photographs that did not make it into a story below.
for Oregon Quarterly
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Two species of monkey live in the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary: the critically endangered white-thighed colobus and the mona monkey, considered at low risk of extinction.