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Monkey Moves Signal Climate Change

The recent movement of monkeys in Kenya from their usual habitat is a sure sign of climate change according to a leading conservationist.

Renowned Kenyan palaeontologist, Dr Richard Leakey, told Reuters this week that white-bearded De Brazza's monkeys had been spotted east of the Great Rift Valley, a region previously in accessible to the primates.

“The De Brazza's must have had a wet forest corridor from western Kenya across the Rift Valley to this new locality,” noted Dr Leakey, the chairman and founder of WildlifeDirect - a non-profit wildlife protection organisation.

Although the news was welcomed by other wildlife groups, especially in light of a recent report that identified 25 primate species at risk of extinction, Dr Leakey expressed some reservations: "This latest discovery really underlines our ignorance of changes in the landscape over a relatively short period of time,” he said. “It is a critical issue for study as it puts climate change again as the most critical consideration as we plan for the future."

Dr Leakey went on to add that he had personally witnessed dramatic changes in Kenya over the past 40 years, including a 50-foot (15 metre) fall in the level of Lake Turkana. The environmentalist also spoke of his concernts that African leaders were not taking the issue seriously.

"Why do we think that we are somehow not going to have to deal with this issue?" he concluded.

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published: 18:38 - 31 October 2007