Buff-cheeked gibbons are found in southeastern Asia, including southern Laos, eastern Cambodia, and central and southern Vietnam.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
Gibbons have small body size compared to the other great apes in the family Hominidae. They range in weight between 7 and 11 kg and reach lengths between 60 and 80 cm. They have extremely long arms and relatively long legs. The hands are so long that they appear hook-shaped. The thumbs on the hands are not elongated and are not used for swinging from branch to branch; instead these thumbs are used more for grooming behavior. The body is generally held in an upright position.
In N. gabriellae, males have small, light-buff cheek patches that extend to the bottom of the eye and can be slightly separated at the neck. Females of this species are smaller than other gibbon females and have a black border on the ears. Females are generally brownish-yellow in color and can have a slight grayish tint to the darker hairs on the chest, on edges of fingers and toes, and on the outer forearm. Adult females may have slightly red-brown genital hairs, and usually there is a trace of a white fringe around the face. The pelage of buff-cheeked gibbons is very fine. Finally, females are only slightly smaller than males.
Pelage coloration changes as animals mature. The timing of the color changes is variable and it may take several months to complete. When a buff-cheeked crested gibbon is born, its coat is bright yellow. Within a few months, the color changes to black within a few months; only the cheek patches remain yellow. During this time, the young resemble adult males in their fur coloration. Males retain this color pattern as they mature, but females revert to a yellowish pelage around the time of sexual maturity.
Range mass: 7.0 to 11 kg.
Average mass: 8.5 kg.
Range length: 60 to 80 cm.
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Gibbons are all primarily arboreal species that generally avoid walking on the ground or swimming. The genus name, Hylobates, actually means "dweller in the trees." Nomascus gabriellae is found in tropical evergreen forests. These primates prefer lowland forests, and are rarely seen between above elevations of 1,500 to 2,000 m.
Range elevation: 2,000 (high) m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest
Habitat and Ecology
Like other gibbons, yellow-cheeked crested gibbons are arboreal and diurnal. Average group size is on the order 3-5 individuals. They feed mainly on fruit and leaves (Traeholt et al. 2005). Home range sizes in Nam Cat Tien National Park range from less than 30 ha in evergreen forest to up to 100 ha in bamboo forest (Traeholt et al. 2005).
This species is highly unstudied in the wild so all that is documented is from captive cases. Nomascus gabriellae is a selective eater and is mostly frugivorous. However, individuals have also been documented eating shoots, leaves, flowers, and occasionally insects.
Animal Foods: insects
Plant Foods: leaves; fruit; flowers
Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )
Since all known behaviors and relationships are primarily studied in captivity, there is no documentation of the ecosystem role of N. gabriellae. However, the appetite of buff-cheeked gibbons for fleshy fruits would suggest they have a significant role in the disperal of seeds.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
Adult gibbons typically live in the crown region of the forest where they have no natural predators except humans. In the lower stories of the forest, leopards, clouded leopards, and pythons may be potential predators.
- Homo sapiens
Life History and Behavior
Gibbons are famous for their calls. Gibbon groups produce loud, stereotyped songs in the early morning. Songs are thought to function primarily in defense of resources such as territories, food trees, and mates. However, songs may also help to attract potential mates. Gibbon songs include species-specific characteristics which are inherited rather than learned.
Mated pairs of buff-cheeked gibbons typically produce duet songs which consist of coordinated vocal interactions by both partners using sex-specific phrases. Other family members may participate in the song. Solo songs are typically produced by unmated buff-cheeked crested gibbons only.
Also, buff-cheeked gibbons have extended fields of skin glands situated in the axillary, sternal, and inguinal areas of the body. The glands produce a reddish secretion and are particularly active under hot temperatures and when the animals are excited. It is thought that the glands may play a role in olfactory communication. The glandular secretion also influences the amount of red visible in the yellowish female pelage coloration.
Tactile communication occurs when these animals groom one another, play, or mate. Visual communication signals, such as body postures and facial expressions, are also used by these primates.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: duets
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Little research has been done on this species of gibbon in the wild, so its lifespan and survivorship in the wild are unknown. The only data on the lifespan of N. gabriellae is from captivity, where individuals of this species can live up to 50 years.
Status: captivity: 50 (high) years.
The mating system of all gibbons is monogamy. All gibbon species have nuclear families consisting of a mated pair and 0 to 4 dependent offspring.
Mating System: monogamous
The breeding pair in the nuclear family can produce an infant every 2 to 3 years. The interbirth interval tends to be long because females nurse the young for up to two years. There has never been any record of twins being born in a buff-cheeked gibbon family. Buff-cheeked gibbons have a relatively long gestation of 7 months, and the offspring stay with the family unit for 6 to 8 years.
Breeding interval: These gibbons breed every 2 to 3 years.
Breeding season: Gibbons breed throughout the year.
Range number of offspring: 1 (low) .
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 7 months.
Average weaning age: 24 months.
Range time to independence: 6 to 8 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 6 to 8 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 6 to 8 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Buff-cheeked gibbons have extensive parental investment by both parents. Females necessarily provide nutrition through nursing the young, but both parents may groom, carry, and protect the immature gibbons. The young stay with the parents for 6 to 8 years after birth. After this time, they move away to establish territories and families of their own.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Male, Female); extended period of juvenile learning
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Nomascus gabriellae
Below is the 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.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Nomascus gabriellae
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hylobates gabriellae
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
The species is threatened by habitat loss (from development and logging) and by hunting. Also, extensive military activities have had a detrimental effect on the species mainly through habitat destruction. This species is not efficiently protected at present, not even in nature reserves and national parks. There are some local laws forbidding the hunt of these animals, but they are poorly enforced. Only international trade laws that forbid sale of these creature and their body parts in Europe and the US are enforced.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Data Deficient(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1996Data Deficient
- 1996Data Deficient
In Cambodia, in Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the population is estimated at between 1,300 and 1,700 groups (Rawson and Clements in prep.), but including the surrounding forested areas the total population may be twice this size (Traeholt et al. 2005). Other estimates include: about 850 groups in Snoul Wildlife Sanctuary; about 360 groups in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary estimated; 330 groups in Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary; 5,750 groups in Virachey National Park, and 1,100 groups in the Pheapimex concession (Traeholt et al. 2005).
In Lao PDR, high gibbon densities have been reported from Xe Pian National Biodiversity Conservation Area (Duckworth et al. 1995, 1999). There is an estimated 400-6,720 groups from Xe Pian National Biodiversity Conservation Area (Duckworth et al. 1995). The large Xe Pian-Dong Hua Sao National Biodiversity Conservation Areas population is of major global significance for gibbon conservation (Duckworth et al. 1999).
During a survey of about 6 km2 of Bach Ma National Park (Thua Thien Hue province, central Viet Nam) where forests occupy 220 km², a density of about 1.3 goups/km2 was estimated (Geissmann et al. 2007). Among six provinces from Thua Thien Hue (central Viet Nam) to Thanh Hoa (southern part of north Viet Nam), Dak Rong Nature Reserve (Quang Tri province, central Viet Nam) was identified as one locality with the highest gibbon density, with an estimated density of only 0.06 groups/km2 (Nguyen Manh Ha et al. 2005). Estimated population densities in Cambodia range from 0.00 to 3.73 groups/km2 (n = 15), with an average of 1.47 groups/km2 (Traeholt et al. 2005).
Recommended conservation actions for this species include: regulation of hunting and wildlife trade; minimization of habitat disturbance; and research and field surveys throughout the range, specifically sound recordings, genetic analysis and photographic recordings to help better define the distribution area (Geissmann et al. 2000).
The species is the second-most common species of crested gibbons (genus Nomascus) maintained in zoos (Gibbon Network 2006; Moisson and Baudier 2005; Varsik 2000).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There is no known threat or negative impacts to humans by N. gabriellae.
Some asian cultures use these animals for medicine, food, and pets, but not N. gabriellae exlusively. There is no particular eco-tourism draw with these animals.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; source of medicine or drug
The yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae), also called the golden-cheeked gibbon, yellow-cheeked crested gibbon, the golden-cheeked crested gibbon or the buffed-cheeked gibbon, is a species of gibbon native to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
The yellow-cheeked gibbon is born blond and later turns black. Males carry this colouring through their lifespan and have the distinguishing golden cheeks. Females are born blonde to blend into their mother's fur but they later turn black. Females turn back to blond at sexual maturity, keeping only a black cap on the top of their heads.
The yellow-cheeked gibbon, like all gibbon species, has a unique song which is usually initiated by the male. The female will then join in and sing with the male to reinforce their bond and announce to other gibbons that they are a pair in a specific territory. The male usually finishes the song after the female has stopped singing.
Little is known about this species in the wild, but it is thought that it has a life span of approximately 46 years.
A recent report by the Wildlife Conservation Society counted 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia’s Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, an estimate that represents the largest known population of the species in the world.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 180. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Geissmann, T., Manh Ha, N., Rawson, B., Timmins, R., Traeholt, C. & Walston, J. (2008). Nomascus gabriellae. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Geissman, Thomas. "Fact Sheet: Yellow-Cheeked Crested Gibbon". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- Quist, Erin. "Nomascus gabriella".
- Quist, Erin. "Nomascus gabriella".
- Unexpected Large Monkey Population Discovered Newswise, Retrieved on August 28, 2008.
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