Restored African forest now with rare monkeys
An African forest brought lovingly back to life has become an important shelter for one of the world’s rarest monkeys.
Scientists worked carefully for twenty years to protect and restore a forest in Benin bringing back its former glory.
They thinned out invasive species of plants and trees and reintroduced 253 species. The new species’ seeds and plantlets were collected from the remnants of the original forest.
Now, the rehabilitated forest is home to 600 different species of plant and has become a sanctuary for many animals. Most importantly, it has become a refuge for red-bellied monkeys, an endangered primate found only in Benin and Nigeria.
The monkey’s official name is the white-throated guenon. It was once considered extinct due to constant hunting for its beautiful fur.
However, it has survived and is now thriving in the restored Drabo Forest in southern Benin.
The 14-hectare forest reserve is a model for conservation. It is also a model of how scientists and local people can work together to protect and rebuild their environment.
A research paper describing the two-decade process said: “The biodiversity richness of the rehabilitated forests of Drabo now rivals that of natural rainforest remnants of the region.
“With 585 plant species or around 20% of the flora of Benin, the Drabo forest has become a sanctuary not only for monkeys but also for rare plants.”
The restored forest is easily accessible to visitors and will now become an educational and research centre for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Developing it for ecotourism will also be beneficial to Benin. This will boost its growing reputation as one of the African continent’s top places for travellers to see wildlife.