Moustached monkey, Cercopithecus cephus

Grinding through a remnant of pool surrounded by scrub marécage, the road before us opens onto a savanna burned in the past week.  Brilliant shoots of tender new growth pop against the charred stubble, illuminated a translucent green by the late afternoon sun.  100 meters ahead on the savanna a troop of moustached monkeys suddenly spot our vehicle and scramble across the savanna.  A chorus of chipping and chirping crosses the track, moving like a wave into the forest, the swish and rustle of tree limbs like a sudden gust of wind tunneling into the trees.

As we draw close, a stumbling blur of fur catches my eye, and I spot a tiny “toddler” monkey ambling forlorn, about to be cutoff by the approach of our vehicle.  Attendez! Attendez!  I urge our driver to stop, afraid we may have a monkey running into our path.  We watch as the little monkey sits on the savanna before us, apparently confused by the presence of our vehicle.

A tender morsel for any nearby eagle, I decide to escort the ball of fur to the forest, hopefully to rejoin its mother.  As I approach, it gulps a big breath and slowly unleashes a shrill wail, much too loud for its size.  It is trembling like it is about to cry.  Afraid I may give it a heart attack, I kneel at a distance and try to console it with some whispering babble.  It settles a little and begins hopping tentatively for cover.  After a few more sit down and cry episodes, it finally manages to reach the forest, an impatient chirping from the nearby troop urging it on.

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