The geographic range of golden langurs is limited to Assam, India and neighboring Bhutan where they live year-round. The area they inhabit is restricted to the region surrounded by four geographical landmarks: the foothills of Bhutan (north), Manas river (east), Sankosh river (west), and Brahmaputra river (south).
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
- Aranyak. 2002. "Non-Human Primates in Northeast India" (On-line). Aaranyak. Accessed October 13, 2004 at http://www.aaranyak.org/Primates.htm.
- Gupta, A., D. Chivers. 2000. Feeding ecology and conservation of the golden langur. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 97(3). December: 349-362.
- Srivastava, A., J. Biswas, P. Bujarbarua. 2001. Status and distribution of golden langurs (Trachypithecus geei) in Assam, India. American Journal of Primatology, 55(1). September: 15-23.
India (Assam), Bhutan
Golden langurs can be most easily recognized by the color of their fur, after which they are named. Their hair ranges from dark golden to creamy buff and their faces are black and hairless except for a long pale beard. The color of their fur differs across their bodies with a slightly darker red on the top and sides and a lighter color underneath. It has been noted that their fur changes colors according to the seasons. In the winter it is dark golden chestnut and in the summer it is more cream colored. The color of the young also differs from adults in that they are almost pure white. Color varies geographically. Golden langurs in the south tend to be more uniform in color and smaller than those in the northern regions.
The overall shape of this monkey is slim, with long limbs and tail. The tail has a tassle on the end and is notably larger in males than in females. Males also tend to be slightly larger than females, although no weights have been recorded. The head and body measures from 50 to 75 cm and the tail ranges from 70 to 100 cm.
Range length: 120 to 175 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; ornamentation
Average mass: 8100 g.
- K K Gurung. 1996. Field Guide to the Mammals of the Subcontinent. London: Academic Press Inc..
Golden langurs occupy moist evergreen and tropical deciduous forests as well as some riverine areas and savannas in Assam and Bhutan. They are very much dependent on trees, living in the upper canopy of sub-tropical forests in the south and in more temperate forests in the north. The elevations they inhabit also vary according to their geographic range. They may be found at elevations close to sea level in the south and up to 3000 m at the foothills of Bhutan in the north. Aside from their natural habitats, golden langurs can also be found in wildlife reserves in both India and Bhutan. In Bhutan, a combination of four different national parks and wildlife sanctuaries comprise most of the area in which golden langurs are found. In Assam, they inhabit the two wildlife sanctuaries there, as well as parts of fragmented reserve forests, proposed reserve forests, and other non-forested areas.
Range elevation: 0 to 3000 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest
Other Habitat Features: riparian
- 2003. "Wildlife Database" (On-line). Janmanch. Accessed February 09, 2004 at http://www.janmanch.org/wildlife/kids_w_l.asp?id=65.
- 2004. "Nature Wildfacts - Golden langur, golden leaf monkey" (On-line). BBC - Nature Wildfacts. Accessed February 09, 2004 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/323.shtml.
- Wangchuk, T., D. Inouye, M. Hare. 2003. A new subspecies of golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) from Bhutan. Folia Primatologica, 74(2). March-April: 104-108.
Habitat and Ecology
Golden langurs are both folivores and frugivores. Their diets consist of ripe and unripe fruits, young and mature leaves, leaf buds, flower buds, seeds, twigs, and flowers. Although they eat a variety of food, they mostly prefer to eat young leaves. The most popular vegetation among golden langurs are Ficus racemosa, Salmalia malabarica, and Adenanthera peuonina. Most langurs, Trachypithecus geei included, are also known as leaf monkeys; a name derived from their exclusively vegetarian diet. Due to the large amounts of leafy material that the golden langurs consume, they have a sacculated stomach, which is a common characteristic in the subfamily Colobinae. A sacculated stomach is made up of different compartments and helps to break down the cellulose in the leaves. It is a very important feature that is necessary to obtain the maximum possible nutrition from innutritious leaves.
Plant Foods: leaves; fruit; flowers
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore )
- Time Inc. 1965. The Primates. New York: Time Inc..
Due to the lack of research, the role that golden langurs play in the ecosystem is unknown. Researchers do suspect however, that like most primates, they are important for seed dispersal, seed predation, and pollination.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; pollinates
Species Used as Host:
Predation by other animals is negligible, most likely due to the highly arboreal lifestyle of golden langurs. Their numbers are mainly threatened by humans through fragmentation and the eventual degradation of their habitats.
Life History and Behavior
Again, little is known about the communication between golden langurs. What is certain is that vocal communication does exist between members of the species, including loud “whooping” noises heard from the male langurs.
In spite of a paucity of information on these animals, we can assume that like other primates tactile communication (such as grooming, mating, aggressive behaviors) and visual signals (such as body postures and facial expressions) play some role in communication also.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Due to their rarity and fairly recent discovery, golden langurs have not been well studied, and as a result little is known about their lifespan.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Because they have been studied relatiely little, there is little known information on the reproduction of golden langurs. Scientists believe that their reproduction is similar to a close relative of golden langurs, hanuman langurs.
Mating System: cooperative breeder
Although not much is known about the reproduction of golden langurs, it has been observed that births occur almost year-round. There may be a period of a few months where more births are concentrated, corresponding to a change in the climate and vegetation. Golden langurs give birth to a single offspring at a time.
Breeding interval: The breeding interval is unknown.
Breeding season: The breeding season is year-round.
Range number of offspring: 1 (high) .
Average number of offspring: 1.
Key Reproductive Features: year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Average number of offspring: 1.
While parental care of the offspring has not been observed for golden langurs, it is presumed to be similar to that of hanuman langurs. In this species, all of the care for the young is provided by the mother and other females in the group. The father has no contact with his offspring.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); extended period of juvenile learning
- Academic Press Inc. 1967. A Handbook of Living Primates. London: Academic Press Inc..
Golden langurs as a species are in trouble, and this is reflected by their status on various environmental lists. In 2003, they were considered engendered by the IUCN Red List, and listed as Appendix I on the CITES website. They were first listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List in 1976. In the Indo-US Primate Project Survey, which looked at the species from 1994 to 1999, they were listed as critically endangered.
The main reason for low numbers of golden langurs is because of their localized habitat and the rapid loss of this habitat due to deforestation. Although the forests are supposedly protected, until recently their protection was not strictly enforced and it is estimated that approximately 50% of their habitat was lost from India in a span of 10 to 12 years. In 1998, approximately 4,500 golden langurs remained in both Assam and Bhutan. In spite of the need for immediate action, it was reported that the area the species inhabited shrunk again from 1998 to 2002.
Although at current rates of decline, the survival of these animals seems bleak, there has been some efforts to save them. Almost all of the land they occupy in Bhutan is part of four different wildlife preserves and national parks that have been set up to protect them. The Royal Manas National Park, Black Mountain National Park, Trumsingla Wildlife Sanctuary and Phipsoo WLS are home to more than half of the total number of golden langurs living today. While this is good news, in India, only approximately 95 square km of their habitat is protected by the two WLS in Assam: the Manas WLS and Chakrasilla WLS. Most of the golden langurs' habitat falls into forest reserves and proposed forest reserves or other fragmented areas where many trees have been cut down. In the past these areas were not well protected but certain conservation groups, along with the Indo-US Primate Project are working together to assure the future of these forests. Aside from protecting the forest reserves, they are also working with local residents to rebuild the forests. With all this work being done to save golden langurs, hopefully their populations will grow.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
- 2004. "CITES-listed species database" (On-line). Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Accessed February 09, 2004 at http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/species.html.
- International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2003. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed February 09, 2004 at http://www.redlist.org.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Data Deficient
- 1994Rare(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Rare(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Rare(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Rare(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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 Trachypithecus geei, see its USFWS Species Profile
The population has declined by more than 30% in the last 30 years, and is expected to decline further in the near future due to various threats outlined by field biologists in both India and Bhutan (Molur et al. 2003).
Molur et al. (2003) list the following threats for this species: “Crop plantations, grazing, harvesting non-woody vegetation for firewood and charcoal production, selective logging, timber collection, human settlement, deforestation, fragmentation, trade, killed by domestic dogs, habitat loss, high juvenile mortality, inbreeding, and local trade in live animals as pets and in road shows. Trade is insignificant.” Due to road construction and other human activities (settlements), the northern and southern populations are completely separated and this has led to loss of suitable habitats and fragmentation (J. Das pers. comm.). There are potential threats to the population in the near future in India due to mustard cultivation and other human activities, and therefore the population is also expected to decline (J. Das pers. comm.).
In Bhutan this species is found in Black Mountains National Park (Srivastava et al. 2001), Pipsu Wildlife Sanctuary, Royal Manas National Park and Trumshingla National Park (Molur et al. 2003).
Molur et al. (2003) list the following research actions needed for the conservation of this species: taxonomy, survey studies, limiting factor research, and habitat fragmentation. The following management actions are needed: habitat management, wild population management, monitoring, public education, and Population and Habitat Viability Assessment.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Although the limited contact between humans and golden langurs restricts the amount of information available on their economic importance, the continued destruction of their habitat may lead to more encounters. In areas where their habitat is being destroyed golden langurs may be forced to move to unfamiliar places, resulting in the destruction of crops as they search for food.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Because golden langurs tend to avoid human contact, little is known about the economic importance they provide for humans.
Gee's golden langur
Gee's golden langur (Trachypithecus geei), or simply the golden langur, is an Old World monkey found in a small region of western Assam, India and in the neighboring foothills of the Black Mountains of Bhutan. It is one of the most endangered primate species of India. Long considered sacred by many Himalayan people, the golden langur was first brought to the attention of science by the naturalist E. P. Gee in the 1950s. In a part of Bhutan, it has hybridised with the capped langur T. pileatus.
Discovery and etymology
The earliest record of the golden langur is in Pemberton's 1838 paper which states that "Griffith observed these monkeys near Tongso in Central Bhutan." However, Pemberton's work was lost and not rediscovered until the 1970s, the scientific discovery of the golden langur unfolded differently. In 1907, E. O. Shebbeare—who was out with some hunters and forest rangers—reported seeing a "cream coloured langur" in the vicinity of the Jamduar.[nb 1] However, neither a photograph nor a live or dead specimen was presented at that time. The first reference to the golden langur in print, as an animal of unidentified taxonomic status, was in a 1919 publication that stated: "Pithecus sp? – A pale yellow coloured langur is common in the adjoining district of Goalpara (Assam). Jerdon reported one from Terai, the adjacent district on the (west) side, which Blanford suggested might be P. entellus."
At around the time of India's independence in 1947 a number of other sightings were reported. In February 1947, in the Forest Rest House visitor's book in Raimona, a few miles south of Jamduar, C. G. Baron reported seeing some langurs whose "whole body and tail is one colour – a light silvery-gold, somewhat like the hair of a blonde." A year later, back in Jamduar, H. E. Tyndale, a tea planter, reported seeing "Sankosh cream langurs." However, it wasn't until a few years later that a focused effort to identify the golden langur was mounted by E. P. Gee, who traveled to Jamduar in November 1953. His team were able to observe three groups of golden langurs, all on the east bank of the Sankosh river. The first group was observed on the Bhutan side of the border; the second group, a large one of 30 to 40 individuals, a mile north of Jamduar on the Indian side; and a third group four to five miles (6.44 km to 8.05 km) south near Raimona. Colour movies of the second group were made by Gee.
In August 1954, Gee reported his findings to an expert at the Zoological Society of London, who advised that the golden langur might be a new species. In January 1955, Gee also reported his results to the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and, after showing his movies of the golden langurs, suggested that Jamduar be included in the then-upcoming ZSI-survey of that region. The suggestion received the support of Dr. Sunder Lal Hora, then Director of ZSI, and later that year six specimens of the golden langur were collected by the survey party. The following year, Dr. H. Khajuria, a taxonomist who studied the specimens, described the new species naming it Presbystis geei in honour of Gee.[nb 2]
There are two subspecies of this species:
- Trachypithecus geei geei Khajuria, 1956
- Trachypithecus geei bhutanensis Wangchuk, 2003
The coat of the adult golden langur ranges from cream to golden; on its flanks and chest the hairs are darker and often rust coloured; the coats of the juveniles and females are lighter, silvery white to light buff. The golden langur has a black face and a very long tail measuring up to 50 cm (19.69 in) in length.
The regions of its distribution are very small; the main region is limited to an area approximately 60 miles square bounded on the south by the Brahmaputra River, on the east by the Manas River, on the west by the Sankosh River, all in Assam, India, and on the north by the Black Mountains of Bhutan, and the secondary region, 200 miles to the south-southeast, is in a small portion of the northwestern part of Tripura state. These biogeographical barriers are believed to have led to the radiation of species from the closely related capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus). The best range maps so far are Choudhury (2002) and Choudhury (2008)
Behavior and ecology
For the most part, the langur is confined to high trees where its long tail serves as a balancer when it leaps across branches. During the rainy season it obtains water from dew and rain drenched leaves. Its diet is herbivorous, consisting of ripe and unripe fruits, mature and young leaves, seeds, buds and flowers.
It generally lives in troops of about 8 (but sometimes up to 50) with several females to each adult male. The smallest golden langur troop was composed of four individuals, while the largest had 22, giving an average value of 8.2 individuals per troop. The adult gender ratio was 2.3 females to every male, although the majority of groups had only one adult male.
In 1988, two captive groups of golden langurs were released into two protected areas of the western region of the state of Tripura, India. As of 2000, one of these groups, consisting of six (and possibly eight) individuals in the Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary, had survived.
Gee's golden langur is currently endangered; a total Indian population in 2001 of 1,064 individuals, in 130 groups, was recorded. Of these, approximately 60% were adults indicating a relative lack of infants and juveniles. The relative death of infants and juveniles indicate a declining population and with the habitat being degraded by human activity. A fragmented but protected population in a rubber plantation in Nayakgaon, Kokrajhar district of Assam increased in population from 38 individuals in 1997 to 52 in 2002. The population has also adapted to feeding on dry rubber seeds.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 176. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Das, J., Medhi, R. & Molur, S. (2008). Trachypithecus geei. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Choudhury 1988a.
- Coudhury 1988b.
- Choudhury 1990.
- Srivastava et al. 2001, pp. 15–23.
- Gee 1955.
- Gee 1961.
- Choudhury 2008.
- Pemberton 1838.
- Khajuria 1978.
- Inglis et al. 1919.
- Gee 1961, pp. 1-4.
- Khajuria 1956.
- Prater 1971, p. 42.
- Srivastava et al. 2001, p. 15.
- Wangchuk, Inouye & Hare 2008.
- Choudhury 2002.
- Srivastava et al. 2001, p. 18.
- Gupta 2000.
- Medhi et al. 2004.
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- Choudhury, A. U. (1988b). "Conservation in Manas Tiger Reserve". Tigerpaper 15 (2): 23–27.
- Choudhury, A. U. (2002). "S.O.S. Golden langur". The Rhino Found. NE India Newsletter 4: 24–25.
- Choudhury, A. U. (2008). "Primates of Bhutan and observations of hybrid langurs". Primate Conservation 23: 65–73. doi:10.1896/052.023.0107.
- Gee, E. P. (1955). "A new species of langur in Assam". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 53 (2): 252–254.
- Gee, E. P. (1961). "The distribution and feeding habit of the golden langur, Presbytis geei Gee (Khajuria, 1956)". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 58 (1): 1–12.
- Gupta, A.; Chivers, D. J. (2000). "Feeding ecology and conservation of golden langur Trachypithecus geei Khajuria in Tripura, Northeast India". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 97 (3): 349–362.
- Inglis, C. M.; Travers, W. L.; O'Donel, H. V.; Shebbeare, E. O. (1919). "A tentative list of the vertebrates of the Jalpaiguri District, Bengal". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 26 (4): 819–825.
- Israel, S.; Sinclair, T., eds. (2001). "Indian Wildlife". Discovery Channel and APA Publications. ISBN 978-981-234-555-4.
- Khajuria, H. (1956). "A New Langur (Primates: Colobidae) from Goalpara District, Assam". Annals and Magazine of Natural History 9: 86–88. doi:10.1080/00222935608655728.
- Khajuria, H. (1978). "The golden langur, Presbytis geei Khajuria: Its discovery, authorship, taxonomic status, and bibliography". Primates 19: 237–324. doi:10.1007/BF02373243.
- Medhi, R.; Chetry, D.; Bhattacharjee, P. C.; Patiri, B. N. (2004). "Status of Trachypithecus geei in a rubber plantation in Western Assam, India". International Journal of Primatology 25 (6): 1331. doi:10.1023/B:IJOP.0000043965.38722.63.
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- Pemberton, R. B. (1838). Report on Bootan Indian Studies Past and Present. Calcutta: G. G. Huttman, Bengal Military Orphan Press.
- Prater, S. H. (1971). The book of Indian Animals. Mumbai: Bombay Natural History Society and Oxford University Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-19-562169-3.
- Srivastava, A.; Biswas, J.; Das, J.; Bujarbarua, P. (2001). "Status and distribution of golden langurs (Trachypithecus geei) in Assam, India". American Journal of Primatology 55 (1): 15–23. doi:10.1002/ajp.1035. PMID 11536313.
- Srivastava, Arun (2006). "Ecology and conservation of the golden langur, Trachypithecus geei, in Assam, India". Primate Conservation 21: 163–170. doi:10.1896/0898-6184.108.40.206.
- Wangchuk, T.; Inouye, D. W.; Hare, M. P. (2003). "A new subspecies of golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) from Bhutan". Folia Primatologica 74 (2): 104. doi:10.1159/000070007.
- Wangchuk, T. (2005). The evolution, phylogeography, and conservation of the golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) in Bhutan (Ph.D.). College Park, MD: Digital Repository of the University of Maryland. p. 325.
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