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Did You Know? Phayre's Leaf Monkey Facts For Kids

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Have you ever wondered what a langur wearing spectacles would look like? If so, here's the Phayre's leaf monkey for you!

Native to Southeast Asia, the Phayre's leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei) is a species of langur, or lutung, of the family Cercopithecidae. Also known as Phayre's langur, this primate is unique in appearance due to its characteristic spectacled look, which, well, makes it seem like the animal is wearing a pair of glasses. It is due to the white patches encircling the eyes and surrounding the lips.

Historically, the geographic range of the Phayre's langur included southwestern China (western, central, and southern Yunnan), eastern Bangladesh, northeastern India (Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam), Myanmar, Lao PDR (Laos), northern Vietnam, and Thailand. However, slash and burn agricultural practices (Jhum cultivation), hunting, charcoal production, human settlements, timber logging, and firewood collection have jeopardized a large chunk of the langur's population in the last thirty years or so. The resulting habitat loss has drastically declined the populations of these beautiful primates. Today, these primates are endangered, with isolated populations scattered throughout their geographic range. In India, only three protected areas in the northeastern state of Tripura offer refuge to these distinctive primates, with habitat loss threats looming large. The Indian subspecies (Trachypithecus phayrei phayrei) is also protected by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Phayre's langurs inhabit mixed semi-evergreen, evergreen, and moist deciduous forests. An arboreal species, the primate spends most of its time on trees and has a diet consisting primarily of leaves. Where primary or secondary forests are absent, these animals depend on small shrubs and bamboo for their food.

Read on for more interesting facts about this species of leaf monkeys, and do check out our galago monkey facts and blue monkey facts as well!

Phayre's Leaf Monkey Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Phayre's leaf monkey?

The Phayre's leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei) is a species of langur native to Southeast Asia with a range including Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, North Vietnam, Lao PDR (Laos), and north of the Thai peninsula. It belongs to the primate family Cercopithecidae and is an Old World monkey.

What class of animal does a Phayre's leaf monkey belong to?

The Phayre's leaf monkey, or Phayre's langur (Trachypithecus phayrei), is a primate that belongs to the class of Mammalia.

How many Phayre's leaf monkeys are there in the world?

An estimate of the total population size of the Phayre's leaf monkey is not available. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species reports their global populations to be on the decline. Several lone populations are scattered throughout their range, with constant habitat loss making them an increasingly endangered species by the day.

Where does a Phayre's leaf monkey live?

The geographic distribution range of Phayre's leaf monkey includes several regions in Southeast Asia, including northeastern India, southwestern China, eastern Bangladesh, Myanmar, Lao PDR (Laos), northern Vietnam, and Thailand. In India, the Phayre's leaf monkeys are specifically found in the northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, and Mizoram. In China, western, southern, and central Yunnan is where these primates can be found. In India, the northeastern state of Tripura is the only stronghold of the Phayre's leaf monkeys. At present, only three protected areas in the region - the Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary, Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Sipahijala Wildlife Sanctuary are havens for these endangered species.

Within their range, the Phayre's langurs reside in treetops at heights of 49-164 ft (15-50 m). In the northeastern state of Assam, India, the langur occupies dense bamboo thickets with plenty of evergreen shrubs and herbs of the ginger family. In the state of Tripura, India, the Phayre's leaf monkeys can be found in areas adjoining tea plantations. In Myanmar, they are common in stream banks and light woodlands, whereas, in Lao PDR, the species inhabits limestone forests. These leaf monkeys spend most part of their day feeding in treetops and rarely leave the safety of a tree. They only leave their position when their food requirements are not met or if they have to settle tree canopy gap shares with other members.

What is a Phayre's leaf monkey's habitat?

The Phayre's langur (Trachypithecus phayrei) is a forest-dwelling arboreal primate found in primary and secondary forests. It inhabits mixed tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. However, the primate can adapt to a variety of alternative habitats such as stream banks, light woodlands, monoculture or mixed plantations, limestone forests, and bamboo thickets with an abundance of evergreen shrubs.

Who do Phayre's leaf monkey live with?

Phayre's leaf monkeys live in groups comprising 8-22 members. They are strongly territorial against alien groups of the same species. Each group consists of a dominant male that rules over the rest of the members. The group also comprises three to six adult females, infants, juveniles, and sub-adults. When an adolescent male in the group turns three years old, it leaves the group to avoid being a threat to the dominant male or mating with a female of the group. The males that leave the group either establish their own gang or join other solitary males. The dominant male of a group protects the territory from group-less males. If the dominant male loses a fight with an outcast male, the latter gains dominance and mating rights in the group.

How long does a Phayre's leaf monkey live?

The exact lifespan of the Phayre's leaf monkey is not known. However, other primate species in the family Cercopithecidae are known to have a lifespan of 20-30 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Phayre's leaf monkeys breed irregularly throughout the year, with births occurring in March and April. After a gestation period of roughly 205 days, a female langur of the species gives birth to one offspring that is nursed for almost a year. The long weaning period and incredible parental investment in caring for the young increase the offspring's survival chances significantly. The young become independent when they are about a year old but maintain contact with their mother. The older offspring also lend a hand in caring for the newborn. While the males reach breeding maturity at about four years of age, females do not give birth until they are at least five.

What is their conservation status?

The Phayre's leaf monkey is listed as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species because its population is at risk of becoming threatened with extinction due to human activities. It is also listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to control its illegal trade.

Besides, the species is also listed in several wildlife protection laws of countries that fall within its range. In India, the endangered Phayre's langur is a Schedule I species in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. In Myanmar, the species has been enjoying protected status since 1994. In addition, Phayre's leaf monkeys inhabiting national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries get a certain level of protection. Apart from the three protected sites in Tripura, India, the Cúc Phương National Park located in Vietnam is an important biodiversity site that houses the Phayre's leaf monkeys.

Phayre's Leaf Monkey Fun Facts

What does the Phayre's leaf monkey look like?

Phayre's leaf monkeys look like they are wearing spectacles.

Phayre's leaf monkeys are dark grayish-blue in color on the back. The underside is covered in brownish-white fur. The legs, upper arms, and tail are silvery-gray, with the head and tail darker than the rest of the body. The adult monkeys have a tuft of fluffy hair on the crown of their head, giving the head a somewhat triangular appearance.

However, the most captivating feature is the face. The animal's dark and inquisitive eyes are contrasted with wide, whitish rings, giving the impression as if it is wearing a pair of glasses. A similar whitish patch surrounds the lips. Males and females can be distinguished on the basis of these white patterns around the eyes. While the male's eye rings are parallel to the side of the nose, giving a uniform black strip, those of the females bend inwards to give a black triangular shape on the nose.

How cute are they?

The Phayre's langur is not only one of nature's unique creations but also incredibly cute. On the one hand, the long hairs on the animal's crown give it a punk rocker kind of appearance, and on the other, the white eye-rings lend a charming look.

How do they communicate?

Phayre's leaf monkeys have different vocal calls for different situations. A soft whoo call from the adult male means a predator is in the area, whereas a louder 'kah kah kah' call means they are alarmed. When dominant males defend their territory, they usually give out a loud roaring call against the intruders. Likewise, when they have to bring the group together, a cheng-kong call does the trick. Mother-newborn duos also have unique calls. For instance, the young animals emit a typical distress call when they topple off treetops. Similarly, a female Phayre's leaf monkey will emit a lost call when it is in search of its lost newborn.

How big is a Phayre's leaf monkey?

Male Phayre's leaf monkeys are slightly smaller than their male counterparts. While the head-to-body length of males ranges between 17.3-24 in (44-61 cm), a female is generally a bit taller and longer, measuring about 25.6-34 in (65-86 cm) from head to body. They are roughly the same size as the langur monkey and woolly monkey.

How fast can a Phayre's leaf monkey jump?

It is not known how fast the Phayre's leaf monkey can jump. However, their long tail greatly helps them to jump between trees, maintain balance while crossing wide canopy gaps, and walk on the branches.

How much does a Phayre's leaf monkey weigh?

On average, the males weigh about 16.3 lb (7.4 kg), and females weigh around 13.7 lb (6.2 kg). This makes them broadly similar in weight to the howler monkeys.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female leaf monkeys do not have sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Phayre's leaf monkey?

A baby Phayre's leaf monkey is simply called an infant.

What do they eat?

The main food of the Phayre's leaf monkey is leaves, generally preferring young leaves over mature ones. Occasionally, leaf stalks, flowers, tree gum, seeds, barks, bamboo shoots, and fruits also become a part of their diet.

How active are they?

Phayre's leaf monkeys are active during the day and are mostly busy feeding, resting, or napping. At other times, they travel through the tree branches playing, grooming, or in search of food.

Would they make a good pet?

Being a wild animal, the Phayre's leaf monkey would not make a good pet.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The three subspecies of the Phayre's leaf monkey, T. p. phayrei, T. p. shanicus, and T. p. crepusculus, have slightly different fur colorations.

Humans are the main predators of the Phayre's leaf monkeys. The animal falls prey to poaching activities because its gall stone is believed to have medicinal benefits. Native tribes are also known to hunt the langurs for meat.

What is unusual about Phayre's leaf monkey infants? 

Phayre's leaf monkey infants' fur coat changes color as they grow. As babies, they are covered in tangerine or yellowish fur coats. After about three months, the fur coat begins to change color to assume a silky and silvery-blue appearance with random brown streaks.

Are Phayre's leaf monkey endemic? 

Phayre's leaf monkeys are endemic to the Southeast Asian region with fragmented populations in India, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Bangladesh, and the north peninsular of Thailand.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these langur monkey facts and rhesus monkey facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable night monkey coloring pages.

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