Wednesday, January 11, 2017

By J.E. Rogers

There are so many beautifully adorned birds. There’s the Golden Pheasant;

Photo credit:

The Woodland Kingfisher,

Photo credit: Hennie von Heerden

the Peacock, the Flamingo… I could go on and on. It seems that primates are never referred to as beautifully dressed or ‘pretty.’ Nevertheless, if we were hard-pressed to list a few, I believe the Red-Shanked Douc (Pygathrix nemaeus) would be at the top of the list.

The Red-Shanked Douc is a langur and part of the colobine monkey family, which are Old World monkeys. This particular monkey is considered the ‘best-dressed’ of all the primates because of its striking appearance. It dons a spectacularly patterned coat. There is yellow-orange coloring to light brown facial skin which surrounds almond-shaped eyes. There are flashes of white whiskers alongside the mouth and head.

Photo credit: ©Mark Bowler

The fur on its head and upper arms is black-specked gray giving it a grizzled appearance. And its hands and forearms are white. These dark and light bands of color are marvelous and seen nowhere else in the primate world. Only a picture can truly give this monkey justice.

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They body size is approximately twenty-eight inches, with males slightly larger than females. Males will weigh approximately 15 pounds and females about eleven. Their tails are about 22-30 inches long.

They are arboreal and diurnal, preferring to move and eat in the treetops. A very social monkey, they travel in groups which vary in size according to available resources in the habitat in which they live. Their diet consists of young leaves (their favorite), plant buds, fruits, seeds, and flowers.

The Red-Shanked Douc is deemed to be endangered according to the IUCN*. The endangered status of this primate is based on the fact that this species is believed to have undergone a decline of more than 50% in the last three generations.

Photo credit: ©Anup Shah

Our beautifully dressed primate lives in Indochina, in east-central Lao People’s Democratic Republic, northern and central Vietnam, and it is also believed to live in northern Cambodia 

Threats to the species are the usual culprits: habitat loss, human encroachment and hunting for food as well as medicinal use. It’s a shame to note that although laws have been enacted by Vietnam to protect the Red-Shanked Douc, they are rarely enforced. It is sadder to note that the species freezes when threatened which makes it an easy target. Some national parks have been established where the species is protected including one reserve in the ‘Nam Theum basin in Lao PDR, which is thought to support the largest remaining population of species.’ (Timmins, R.J. and Duckworth, J.W. (1999) Status and conservation of douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus) in Laos. International Journal of Primatology, 20: 469-489.)

In this short video, by Vietnam Birds Photography, you will see the Red-Shanked Douc in the treetops. There's no denying that this is a beautifully attired primate. 

*IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature

If you would like to learn more about this colorful monkey, visit one or all of the following sites:

Thank you for stopping by.

My thanks to for some of the pictures and information that have been included in this post.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

To learn more about me, visit my ‘author page’ on Amazon:

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