Drill (animal)

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Drill [1]
Male Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) (7609817756).jpg
Male at Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon
Drill Mandrillus leucophaeus Junges Tierpark Hellabrunn-7.jpg
Female with infant at Tierpark Hellabrunn in Munich, Germany
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Mandrillus
M. leucophaeus
Binomial name
Mandrillus leucophaeus
(F. Cuvier, 1807)

M l. leucophaeus
M. l. poensis

Drill range map.svg
Drill range

The drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) is a primate of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys), related to baboons and even more closely to mandrills.



Drill at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon Drill, Limbe wildlife centre.jpg
Drill at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon

The drill is a short-tailed monkey up to 70 cm (28 in) long, similar in appearance to the mandrill, but lacks the bright blue and red on the face of that species. It has high sexual dimorphism in weight, with males weighing up to 50 kg (110 lb) and females up to 12.5 kg (28 lb). [3]

The body is overall a dark grey-brown. Mature males have a pink lower lip and white chin on a dark grey to black face with raised grooves on the nose. The rump is pink, mauve and blue. Female drills lack the pink chin.


A dominant male leads a multi-male multi-female group of 20-30 individuals, and is father to most of the young. This group may join others, forming super groups of over 100 individuals. They are seasonally semi-nomadic, and will often rub their chests onto trees to mark their territory. They are semi-terrestrial, foraging mainly on the ground, but climbing trees to sleep at night. The females give birth to a single baby; twins have been recorded once at the Drill Rehab & Breeding Center in Nigeria. [3]

Average longevity in captivity is 28 years.

The diet is primarily frugivorous, taking a wide range of fruit, but they also eat herbs, roots, eggs, insects, and small mammals on occasion. [3] [4]

Distribution and status

Drills are found only in Cross River State in Nigeria, southwestern Cameroon (south to the Sanaga River), and on Bioko Island, part of Equatorial Guinea, in rainforest habitats. Their entire world range is less than 40,000 km2.

Drills are among Africa’s most endangered mammals, and are listed by the IUCN as the highest conservation priority of all African primates. [2] Drill numbers have been declining in all known habitat areas for decades as a result of illegal commercial hunting, habitat destruction, and human development; as few as 3,000 drills may remain in the wild, with the highest population estimate only 8,000. A total of 174 drills recovered from illegal capture are in semicaptivity at the Drill Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre in Nigeria, with high success rates in breeding recorded there, [5] and about 40 in other zoos internationally. [3]

Two subspecies of drill are accepted by some authorities, [3] but are not considered distinct by others: [6]

Their closest relative is the mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx), found from southern Cameroon through mainland Equatorial Guinea (Rio Muni), Gabon and into the Congo. The two species are allopatric across the Sanaga River.

Related Research Articles

Old World monkey Family of mammals

Old World monkey is the common English name for a family of primates known taxonomically as the Cercopithecidae. Twenty-four genera and 138 species are recognized, making it the largest primate family. Old World monkey genera include baboons, macaques, and mabahlls. Common names for other Old World monkeys include the talapoin, guenon, colobus, douc, vervet, gelada, mangabey, langur, mandrill, surili (Presbytis), patas, and proboscis monkey. Phylogenetically, they are more closely related to apes than to New World monkeys. They diverged from a common ancestor of New World monkeys around 55 million years ago.

Mandrill Species of Old World monkey

The mandrill is a primate of the Old World monkey (Cercopithecidae) family. It is one of two species assigned to the genus Mandrillus, along with the drill. Both the mandrill and the drill were once classified as baboons in the genus Papio, but they now have their own genus, Mandrillus. Although they look superficially like baboons, they are more closely related to Cercocebus mangabeys. Mandrills are found in southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo. Mandrills mostly live in tropical rainforest and in very large groups. Mandrills have an omnivorous diet consisting mostly of fruits and insects. Their mating season peaks in July to September, with a corresponding birth peak in December to April.

<i>Mandrillus</i> Genus of Old World monkeys

Mandrillus is a genus of large Old World monkeys distributed throughout central and southern Africa, consisting of two species: M. sphinx and M. leucophaeus, the mandrill and drill, respectively. Mandrillus, originally placed under the genus Papio as a type of baboon, is closely related to the genus Cercocebus. They are characterised by their large builds, elongated snouts with furrows on each side, and stub tails. Both species occupy the west central region of Africa and live primarily on the ground. They are frugivores, consuming both meat and plants, with a preference for plants. M. sphinx is classified as vulnerable and M. leucophaeus as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Mount Cameroon Active volcano in Cameroon near the Gulf of Guinea

Mount Cameroon is an active volcano in the South West region of Cameroon next to the city of Buea near the Gulf of Guinea. Mount Cameroon is also known as Cameroon Mountain or Fako or by its indigenous name Mongo ma Ndemi. It is the highest point in sub-Saharan western and central Africa, the fourth-most prominent peak in Africa, and the 31st-most prominent in the world.

Preusss monkey Species of Old World monkey

The Preuss's monkey, also known as Preuss's guenon, is a diurnal primate that lives terrestrially in mountainous forests of eastern Nigeria, western Cameroon and Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. It was formerly classified as a subspecies of the L'Hoest's monkey.

De Brazzas monkey Species of Old World monkey

De Brazza's monkey is an Old World monkey endemic to the riverine and swamp forests of central Africa. The largest species in the guenon family, it is one of the most widespread arboreal African primates. Aside from size, it can be differentiated from other cercopithecus monkeys by its orange diadem and white beard. Due to its cryptic nature, the species is not well documented in all of its habitats but has shown unique traits such as pair-bonding and aggressive behavior towards other guenons.

Cross–Sanaga–Bioko coastal forests

The Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of west-central Africa. This is lush forest rich in flora and birdlife.

The mainland drill is a subspecies of the endangered drill. It is distinguished by ringed yellow and black coloring on its crown, and is otherwise similar to the Bioko drill.

Bioko drill Subspecies of Old World monkey

The Bioko drill is a subspecies of the drill, an old world monkey. It is endemic to Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, located off the west coast of Africa. The drill is one of the largest monkey species, and is considered endangered. The Bioko drill was separated from their mainland counterpart, due to rising sea levels after the end of the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago. The capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, is on Bioko Island. The Malabo market is the primary point of sale for bushmeat on Bioko Island. The drill plays an important role in the cultural tradition of bushmeat consumption, and is locally considered to be tasty, and in some regions, a delicacy. The commercialisation of hunting on Bioko Island has made this practice unsustainable. Hunting of the Bioko drill is banned in most areas of Bioko Island, as they predominantly inhabit protected areas on the island, however the ban is considered ineffective and hunting remains the largest threat to the drill's population.

Black colobus Species of Old World monkey

The black colobus, or satanic black colobus, is a species of Old World monkey belonging to the genus Colobus. The species is found in a small area of western central Africa. Black colobuses are large, completely covered with black fur, and like all other Colobus monkeys, do not have a thumb. The species has faced large declines in population due to habitat destruction and hunting by humans, and was consequently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List in 1994.

Cameroonian Highlands forests

The Cameroonian Highlands forests are a montane tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion located on the range of mountains that runs inland from the Gulf of Guinea and forms the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. This is an area of forest and grassland which is becoming increasingly more populous as more and more land is cleared for agriculture.

Wildlife of Cameroon

The wildlife of Cameroon is composed of its flora and fauna. Bordering Nigeria, it is considered one of the wettest parts of Africa and records Africa's second highest concentration of biodiversity. To preserve its wildlife, Cameroon has more than 20 protected reserves comprising national parks, zoos, forest reserves and sanctuaries. The protected areas were first created in the northern region under the colonial administration in 1932; the first two reserves established were Mozogo Gokoro Reserve and the Bénoué Reserve, which was followed by the Waza Reserve on 24 March 1934. The coverage of reserves was initially about 4 percent of the country's area, rising to 12 percent; the administration proposes to cover 30 percent of the land area.

Collared mangabey Species of Old World monkey

The collared mangabey, also known as the red-capped mangabey, or the white-collared mangabey, is a species of primate in the family Cercopithecidae of Old World monkeys. It formerly included the sooty mangabey as a subspecies. As presently defined, the collared mangabey is monotypic.

Red-eared guenon Species of Old World monkey

The red-eared guenon, red-eared monkey, or russet-eared guenon is a species of primate in the family Cercopithecidae. It is found in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss, illegal bushmeat hunting and pet trade.

Crested mona monkey Species of Old World monkey

The crested mona monkey, also known as the crowned guenon, crowned monkey, golden-bellied guenon, or golden-bellied monkey,, is a species of African primate in the family Cercopithecidae found in west central Africa.

Northern needle-clawed bushbaby Species of primate

The northern needle-clawed bushbaby is a species of strepsirrhine primate in the family Galagidae. It is found in the coastal region of Cameroon and Nigeria, and on the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea in lower-elevation forests that provide its specialized diet of tree gum and resins.

Prince Demidoffs bushbaby Species of primate

Prince Demidoff's bushbaby, also known as Prince Demidoff's galago, is a species of primate in the family Galagidae. It is native to parts of tropical West and Central Africa.

Preusss red colobus Species of Old World monkey

Preuss's red colobus is a red colobus primate species endemic to the Cross-Sanaga Rivers ecoregion. An important population occurs in Korup National Park, Southwest Province, Cameroon, but the species' distribution is localized. The species is considered present in adjacent Cross River National Park - Oban Division in Nigeria and hunter reports suggest that few groups remain in Nkwende Hills and Nta Ali Forest Reserve in the broader Korup region. A population is also present in Ebo forest, Littoral Province of Cameroon.

Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests

The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests, also known as the Congolian coastal forests, are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of central Africa, covering hills, plains, and mountains of the Atlantic coast of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rumpi Hills Mountain range in Cameroon

The Rumpi Hills are an undulating mountain range with its highest peak, Mount Rata about 1,800 m (5,900 ft) located between the villages of Dikome Balue and Mofako Balue, Ndian division in the Southwest region of Cameroon. The hills are situated at 4°50’N 9°07’E, cutting across four local councils, with the eastern slopes in Dikome Balue, southern slopes in Ekondo Titi, western slopes in Mundemba, and northern slopes in Toko local councils respectively. These hills are located about 80 km (50 mi) north of Mount Cameroon; about 50 km (31 mi) west of the Bakossi Mountains and some 15 km (9.3 mi) southeast of the Korup National Park.


  1. Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 165. ISBN   0-801-88221-4. OCLC   62265494.
  2. 1 2 Oates, J. F. & Butynski, T. M. (2008). "Mandrillus leucophaeus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2008: e.T12753A3377185. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T12753A3377185.en .
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 ARKive - Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) Archived 2015-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program page on the drill Archived February 12, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  5. the Drill Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre (Pandrillus) Buanchor Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  6. Primate Info Net: Drill