The Golden monkey Cercopithecus mitis kandti is one of Uganda’s 20 primate species. It is found in Mgahinga Gorilla National park which is part of the Virunga Mountains where it is endemic. Compared with other monkey species, the golden monkeys are gorgeous in appearance. They have bright coloured fur with long golden hair mixed with orange.
The overall estimate currently stands between 2000 and 4000 individuals and since they are only found in the Virungas, they have been classified as endangered. They live in troops of about 100 lead by an Alpha male, and mostly feed on bamboo shoots, a variety of seasonal fruits, bamboo leaves, lichens, sprouts, flowers, leaves and small invertebrates.
Golden monkeys have to be habituated for tourism. Currently the habituated troops are available for tracking, and also the semi-habituated troops are available for experiential tourism.
Golden monkey tracking is not as exhausting as gorilla tracking because the monkeys do not build new nests everyday so there is no need for pre-trackers to trace them every morning.
Golden Monkey Experiential tourism is a new product for visitors to the park that allows them to have an insight and a better understanding of what it means to research, conserve, and protect an endangered species in the 21st century and the many challenges faced everyday by the team out in the field.
Experiential tourism will give visitors an understanding of why research is of importance and how conservation is a result of what we witness when out in the field, learn about primate life in the canopy and their habitat, and other forest dwelling animals that share their home with the monkeys.