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Nature Life: Making A Wish With Abuko, The Monkey

By Obiabin Onukwugha and Ngozi Eyeh

We were told that in the beginning of creation, God commanded the earth to bring forth living creatures. Monkeys were part of the living creatures came forth out of that creation.

Having intelligence close to that of Man, Monkey vary in sides, features and colours but generally have long tails, and opposable thumbs.

Monkeys, especially macaques and baboons, have been used in scientific research due to their biological similarities to humans.

Some well-known monkey species include chimpanzees (our closest living relatives), gorillas, orangutans, and the tiny but highly social pygmy marmosets.

Abuko or Epalaan, as the Ijaws call it, Monkeys belong to the infra order Simiiformes which inhabit a wide range of environments, from tropical rainforest and savannas to mountainous regions.

They are adaptable and can thrive in various climates, as such Abuko can also be domesticated. When domesticated in zoos or individual raring, Monkeys provides entertainment due to its cognitive behaviour and ability to communicate with man.

Some species like capuchin monkeys, are skilled tool users, while others, like macaques, have been studied extensively for their problem-solving skills.

They appear in folklore, mythology, and art and often symbolize agility, curiosity, or mischief.

“Monkey sabi jump, na because tree near tree”, is a parable close to the fact that no one man can operate or succeed in isolation.

Also, the “Monkey’s Paw” is a well-known horror story that has been adapted in various forms across cultures. In this tale, a monkey’s paw grants its owner three wishes, but the wish come with unintended and tragic consequences, illustrating the theme of “be careful what you wish for.”

The Monkey is also said to tell the animal kingdom when summoned to a gathering over activities of its children, that he does not trust any of them, except for the one still in its womb.

Called Biri in Hausa, Monkeys like other wildlife, provide various climate and environmental benefits through their interactions with their ecosystems.

Forest-dwelling monkeys, such as those found in tropical rainforests, contribute indirectly to climate mitigation by helping to maintain healthy forests. Forests are important carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

As such, by dispersing seeds and promoting forest regeneration, monkeys play a role in sustaining these carbon-rich ecosystems.

Also known as ọbọ, in Yoruba, Monkeys are a part of the rich biodiversity in their habitats. By protecting monkey populations and their habitats, we also safeguard a diverse range of plant and animal species. Biodiversity is essential for ecosystem resilience and adaptation to climate change.

Their activities also contribute to the overall vitality of forests, which, in turn, supports water purification, soil retention, and climate regulation.

Öbọ, are also part of ecosystems that provide essential services such as pollination, nutrient cycling, and pest control. These services contribute to the overall health and functioning of natural environments, which have climate and environmental benefits.

Called Enwe by the Igbos, Monkeys are omnivorous, with diets that include fruits, leaves, insects, and occasionally small animals. Their food preferences vary by species.

Most Enwe species are highly social and live in groups known as troops or clans even as social hierarchies often exist within them.

They use vocalizations, facial expressions, and body language to communicate with one another. Different species have distinct calls and gestures.

Reproduction between Monkeys, called Ebök by the Ibibios, vary by species, but they typically give birth to live young, and infant monkeys require care and protection from their mothers.

Furthermore, Monkeys live an average of 15 to 20 years, depending on the environment.

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