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The Cat Ba Langur

An Extraordinarily Beautiful Primate



Cat Ba Langur Facts

 

Cat Ba langurs are one of several langur species that are closely associated with limestone areas meaning their habitat consists chiefly of limestone covered Karst forest. They regularly sleep in caves throughout the year to guard against unfavourable weather conditions. A group of langurs may use up to twelve different caves as resting sites. They generally spend only one or two nights in the same cave before moving on to other feeding and resting areas. The colouration of male and female langurs is nearly identical the only difference being a white pubic patch on the female. Infants are a flamboyant orange and only begin developing their adult colouration at about four months of age.

 

Distribution and Ecologay of the Cat Ba Langur

The only known locality of where this langur occurs is the island of Cat Ba. There is no evidence to suggest that the Cat Ba langur ever inhabited the mainland. Immigration of this species onto Cat Ba Island might have taken place long before the sea level rose due to a melting of glacial ice. The last time this melting happened was some 10,000 years ago and it turned the former mountainous Ha Long Bay into a huge Archipelago.

A significant proportion of a langurs’ daily life is devoted to foraging and resting. The diet of the Cat Ba langur consists
mainly of leaves, but also includes fresh shoots, flowers, bark and some fruits that are not palatable to human beings. Most of the langur’s food has very high concentration of fibre and tannic acids, and often contains substances that would be poisonous to other animals, including human beings.


Threat Status


The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the Cat Ba langur as one of the most critically endangered primate species in the world due to its small population size and restricted range. Only about 60 langurs currently survive in the wild. The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre at Cuc Phuong National Park is the only facility housing captive Cat Ba langurs. 

In the past, poaching constituted the primary threat to langur survival and resulted in a population decline from an estimated 2,500-2,800 individuals in the 1960s, to a mere 53 individuals by 2000.

As a result of this steep decline in numbers, the remaining langur population is now highly fragmented and low reproductive output threatens their future survival. The population of the Cat Ba langur is scattered around the island in several isolated sub-populations. Some of these include all-female groups with no access to males and are therefore non-reproducing social units. Langurs were mainly poached for the preparation of traditional medicine, referred to as “monkey balm”, and only rarely for use as food, as their meat has a very unpleasant smell.
 

The Cat Ba Langur
The Cat Ba Langur is a member of a primate subfamily that is referred to as leaf-eating monkeys (Colobinae), due to their food preferences

(Photo Courtesy of Stefan Kobold)




A family of langurs
A Group of Cat Ba Langurs
Like most Colobines, the Cat Ba Langur is a tree dweller and lives in social groups with one male and several females

(Photo Courtesy of Bavarian TV)




A limestone cave
Sleeping site of the Cat Ba langur - a limestone cave


ZGAP - Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations

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