Lonely Planet Writer

Have scientists captured footage of the most elusive monkey in the world in the Congo?

They are the rarest monkey in the world … so rare in fact that there are concerns they might soon become extinct. Scientists however, have captured footage of the incredibly elusive Dryas monkey in a new national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The researchers used remote sensing cameras and sound recorders to film the Dryas monkey high up in the trees of Lomami National Park. Around the size of a family cat, the forest they call home is one of the most remote places in the entire world. The Lomami National Park is 2.2 million acres – around the size of Yellowstone National Park – and about fifty times bigger than Washington DC.

Visits there are not for the faint-hearted however, and many governments have travel advisories in place for trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Undeterred by that, a team of scientists from Florida Atlantic University visited the national park when they noticed a local hunter had a dead monkey that appeared to be a Dryas. Kate Detwiler of the university: “Dryas monkeys are drawn to dense thickets and flooded areas. When threatened, they quickly disappear into a tangle of vines and foliage, mastering the art of hiding.”

They said they the monkeys were “extremely cryptic” animals and that filming them required some unorthodox tactics. One of the research team first had to learn how to safely climb incredible tall trees in Panama, before he could get to work in Lomami National Park. Once there, he was able to hide cameras near the ground, midway up the trees, and high in the canopy to see where the Dryas monkey liked to hang out. As well as filming the Dryas monkey, they were also able to watch bonobos, African palm civets, and a small primate called a potto (otherwise known as a softly-softly).

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