New monkey species
A new species of monkey has been discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa.
The primates have been named Cercopithecus lomamiensis by scientists, after the nearby Lomami River. However, the monkeys are locally known as lesula.
The discovery was made when a young female was found in a cage in the town of Opala. She was being kept by a primary school director, who told scientists the name lesula was given to the species by hunters.
Scientists removed the monkey, took it into monitored care and began investigations in the local area. Further captive lesula were found, and six months later they were spotted in their natural habitat.
A project was being led by Dr John Hart of the Lukuru Foundation to explore the area's landscape when the species was found. The results of the discovery have been published in the Public Library of Science journal.
The species has been identified as a member of the guenon group of Old World monkeys. It has been estimated that the new species range at around 6,500 sqare miles in central DRC, a small distribution which could make them vulnerable.
Dr Hart said: "The challenge for conservation now in Congo is to intervene before losses become definitive. Species with small ranges like the lesula can move from vulnerable to seriously endangered over the course of just a few years."
It is has been suggested that this could be the first of many discoveries in the poorly known forest, which is now in the final stages of being declared a protected area: the Lomami National Park.
The lesula is only the second monkey species to have been found in 28 years.