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Apr 18, 2015 10:47 AM EDT

Bouvier's Red Colobus Monkey Photographed Alive and Well in the Republic of the Congo

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Researchers photographed a rare African monkey in the Republic of the Congo, contradicting the long-held belief it had gone extinct.

According to Live Science, Bouvier's red colobus monkey had not been seen in the wild since the 1970s before the Congolese researchers saw it in the Ntokou-Pikounda National Park. The discovered the tiny red primate to live among others in the forests that line the Congo River.

"We're very pleased indeed that Lieven and Gaël were able to achieve their objective of not only confirming that Bouvier's red colobus still exists, but also managing to get a very clear close-up picture of a mother and infant," Fiona Maisels, of the Wildlife Conservatory Society (WCS), said in a press release. "Thankfully, many of these colobus monkeys live in the recently gazetted national park and are protected from threats such as logging, agriculture, and roads, all of which can lead to increased hunting."

Lieven Devreese, of Belgium, and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo, of the Republic of the Congo, started their search for the red colobus monkey in Feb. The species was subjected to a sever drop in numbers due to hunting and logging decades ago, putting their longevity in doubt, but not quite eliminating it.

"Our photos are the world's first and confirm that the species is not extinct," Devreese said in the release.

Bouvier's red colobus monkey is believed to only live in the Republic of the Congo and not much is on record of their existence.

"Confirmation that Bouvier's red colobus still thrives in the this area reminds us that there remain substantially intact wild places on Earth," James Deutsch, vice president for conservation strategy at WCS, said in the release, "and should re-energize all of us to save them before it is too late."

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