The Hanuman Langur (Semnopithecus entellus) is the most widely distributed nonhuman primate in South Asia. It is found throughout most of India and Sri Lanka and is also established in parts of Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Hanuman Langurs occur in a wide range of habitats, from arid regions on the edge of the desert in Rajasthan to the rain forests of Western Ghats, and at altitudes from 100 m above sea level to 4270 meters above sea level in the Himalayas. Although Hanuman langurs are among the most well known, revered, and extensively studied nonhuman primates in India, the taxonomic status of this species has remained unresolved. Hanuman langurs exhibit a high degree of morphological variation throughout their range, which is reflected in the multitude of classification schemes proposed to resolve the taxonomic status of these monkeys. Thus, although most authors have considered the Hanuman langur to be a single species, others have split this species into 2, 3, 4, 7, or as many as 14, 15, or even 16 species. Resolving this taxonomic uncertainty will require more extensive geographic sampling and genetic and morphological analysis (Karanth et al., 2008; Osterholz et al., 2008; Karanth et al. 2010; Nag et al. 2011 and references therein).
The diet of the Hanuman Langur consists mainly of leaves, fruit, buds, and flowers, as well as some insects. Those living near humans sometimes raid gardens and crops. Troops living near temples may rely on human offerings. In the Himalayas, during snowy winter months they rely on pine cones, bark, and twigs. Hanuman Langurs are diurnal, terrestrial, and arboreal—in fact, they are the most terrestrial of any colobine monkey. Up to 80% of the day is spent on the ground and nearly all feeding takes place within 5 m of the ground. In single-male groups, tenure of the alpha male is usually less than 2 years. The new alpha male systematically kills infants sired by previous alpha male. Hanuman Langurs sleep in trees and high places—including hotel ledges! This is the sacred monkey of India, named after the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman. (Rowe 1996 and references therein)
The geographic range of Semnopithecus entellus (Hanuman langur) spans from Kashmir in north India and the Himalayas in Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet south to Sri Lanka, east to Bangladesh and west to the Indus valley in Pakistan (Gron, 2008). It is thought that a single breeding pair resulted in the population found in southeast Bangladesh.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Introduced , Native )
China (Tibet), India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Sikkim, Bangladesh
Hanuman langurs have brownish gray fur, with a tinge of red on their dorsal surface and white fur on their ventral surface. Their feet, hands, face, and ears are black, and their face is framed with white fur. Their tail is usually longer than the body, with a white tip. Infants are born with fine, dark brown or black fur. Their skin is pale, but darkens to black by three months old. They are sexually dimorphic, with males being slightly larger than females. Males weigh about 13 kg and females weigh about 9.9 kg. Excluding their tail, males are about 64 cm long, and females are about 58.5 cm long. Male Hanuman langur tails average 91.0 cm and those of females average 86 cm. They have 32 teeth and their dental formula is 2/2 1/1 2/2 3/3.
Range mass: 9.9 to 13 kg.
Range length: 58.5 to 64 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Hanuman langurs are found in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from arid to tropical evergreen rainforests. They are also known to live in close proximity to humans, including the city of Jodhpur, India, which has over a million inhabitants (Gron, 2008). They are forest dwelling primates in India but are found only in forest openings in Bangladesh (Farid Ahsan and Reza Khan, 2006). The amount of rainfall varies greatly throughout their range (10 to 200 cm). Hanuman langurs are able to withstand a wide range of temperatures, from -7˚C to 46˚C, and spend about 80% of their time on the ground.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban
Habitat and Ecology
Hanuman langurs are primarily herbivores. Their diet is composed of leaves (52-61%), fruits (15-25%), flowers (4-13%), insects (0.4-3%), and other foods such as bark, gum, and soil (9-16%) (Gron, 2008). More developed leaves are preferred over young leaves. They are not highly selective foragers, and consume human food when available. In times of food shortage, they are known to consume bark.
Animal Foods: insects
Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; flowers; lichens
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
Hanuman langurs live sympatrically with Bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata), toque macaque (Macaca sinica), and hooded leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus johnii). Each species occupies a distinct niche, therefore, they are able to live with one another with little to no resource competition. Soapberry bug nymphs (Leptocoris augur) rely on Hanuman langurs to remove fruit casings, enabling them to eat.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
- Soapberry bug (Leptocoris augur)
Hanuman langurs are preyed upon by leopards (Panthera pardus), dholes (Cuon alpinus), tigers (Panthera tigris), wolves (Canis lupus), and golden jackals (Canis aureus). They sleep in the upper forest canopy to avoid predators while resting; however, deforestation has reduced the number of roosting trees, giving predators easier access to langurs, potentially increasing predator induced mortality (Gron, 2008).
- leopards (Panthera pardus )
- dholes (Cuon alpinus)
- tigers (Panthera tigris)
- wolves (Canis lupus)
- golden jackals (Canis aureus)
Life History and Behavior
Hanuman langurs have about 19 different types of calls. In the morning, mature males make a loud whooping call when leaving their sleeping trees. They may also make cacophonous barks if they are surprised by a predator. Adult and sub-adult males often grunt or cough during group movements. Isolation peeps can be heard from members who get lost or separated from their group. They often groom each other, which is performed according to local dominance hierarchies. Dominant Hanuman langurs groom one another and receive grooming more often than subordinate langurs. They use their vision to find food and move around their environment and females display estrous via head shaking.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
In captivity Hanuman langurs often live into their early thirties. In the wild, males can live to 18 years old, and females can live to 30 years old.
Status: wild: 18 to 30 years.
Status: captivity: >30 (high) years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Hanuman langurs live in both polygynous and polygynandrous groups, and unpaired males form bachelor groups. Male dominance is usually determined through fighting, whereas younger, sexually mature females are higher ranking, and decrease in rank with age. Females advertise estrous via head shaking and presenting the anogenital region to potential mates. Females continue mating during gestation to prevent infanticide by dominant males.
Mating System: polygynous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Females typically reach sexual maturity by 2.9 years of age, with males reaching sexual maturity by 5 years of age. Hanuman langurs breed between July and October, and parturition occurs between February and April. Gestation lasts for 200 to 212 days, after which a single infant is usually born. Although rare, females may also give birth to twins.
Breeding interval: Hanuman langurs breed once annually.
Breeding season: Varies by locations, but often falls between July to October.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Range gestation period: 200 to 212 days.
Range weaning age: 8.6 to 13 months.
Range time to independence: 1 to 2 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2.9 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 5 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Infant Hanuman langurs spend the first week of life with their mothers. After that, infants are also cared for by other females that have recently given birth to young; however, the mother still provides most of the care. By six weeks old, infants begin eating on their own. Weaning doesn’t begin until 8 months old and is complete by 13 months old. Between the ages of 9 to 12 months, infants are only around their mother 20% of the time. Males are forced to disperse before they become sexually mature, while females stay with their natal group. Hanuman langurs are independent by 2 years old.
Mothers are very protective of their infants, which often remain at the center of the group for increased protection. Females from surrounding groups sometimes kidnap infants, however, mothers often risk their lives to retrieve their offspring.
Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); post-independence association with parents
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Semnopithecus entellus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Semnopithecus entellus
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Hanuman langurs are listed as a species of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It was previously listed as near threatened in 2004.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix i
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2004Near Threatened
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Entire
Population location: Entire
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Semnopithecus entellus, see its USFWS Species Profile
This species occurs in at least 7 protected areas: Achanakmar Sanctuary, Bhitarkanika National Park, Chandaka-Dampara Sanctuary, Gomarda Sanctuary, Palamau Sanctuary, Valmiki National Park and Valmiki Sanctuary. Its status in captivity is difficult to determine, owing to taxonomic confusion with related forms.
Molur et al. (2003) recommended research on taxonomy, human-animal conflicts, and more surveys, as well as habitat management, wild population management, public education, monitoring, and limiting factor management.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Hanuman langurs are known to raid crops and steal food from people’s homes.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Hanuman langurs are sacred animals in many parts of India. Various body parts are sometimes kept as amulets, which are thought to have a positive effect on the bearer (Gron, 2008).
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; body parts are source of valuable material
Northern plains gray langur
The northern plains gray langur (Semnopithecus entellus) is a species of primate in the Cercopithecidae family. It is found in India on the lowlands north of the Godavari and Krishna rivers and south of the Ganges. It is thought to be introduced to western Bangladesh by Hindu pilgrims on the bank of the Jalangi River. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. It is threatened by habitat loss.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Semnopithecus entellus|
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 166. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=12100696.
- Mitra, S. & Molur, S. (2008). Semnopithecus entellus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
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