A quick sketch of a new monkey species found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is called Lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) (Sketch: Mayank Chhaya)
It might seem a bit inappropriate to write about the discovery of a new species of monkey when parts of the Middle East are in ferment. But then I reasoned that we may run out of new species faster than ferment which is a common occurrence there, while a new monkey species is relatively rare. This one, found in the Congo for instance, is only the second new one to be discovered in Africa in 28 years. Also, it strikes me that I can draw monkeys better than angry men throwing firebombs and stones.
In photographs as opposed to my pencil sketch the Lesula looks way more cutely vulnerable. My sketch makes him look more fierce and someone who can take care of himself which defeats the very purpose of telling the Congolese inhabitants of the rainforests along the Lomami and Tshuapa rivers not to hunt it for bushmeat.
It is amazing that we continue to find new species just as we think we have pretty much covered all corners of this planet in terms of discovering its biodiversity. It is hard to quantify the importance of the Lesula to the overall human experience. For instance, it has no bearing on the violence in Benghazi, Cairo and Sana triggered by an anti-Islamic film.
The new species is described to be the silent, shy type. It dwells both on the ground as well on trees of the Congolese rainforests. As far as I can tell it has offered no comments on what is going on in the human world. It is probably more concerned about its own survival in the face of being hunted for meat.
Looking at the first pictures of the monkey, a common response has been to call it very “huggable.” That is once people have overcome “awww”. It is an understandable reaction when you look at the simian’s face. It has the sort of expression that instantly prompts you to gently pinch its cheeks. I doubt if anyone has actually pinched their cheeks yet.
I think I have run out of things to say about the new species other than saying that I am glad we found it.