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Douc langur


CITES: Appendix I (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: P. cinerea: CR; P. nemaeus, P. nigripes: EN (What is Red List?)
Key: CR = Critically endangered, EN = Endangered, EN = Endangered
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

P. nemaeus
P. nemaeus
Photo: Anna Halko-Angemi

In general, Laos harbors the largest conservable P. nemaeus populations, predominantly due to less habitat fragmentation. The largest populations of the species likely reside within its borders (Timmins & Duckworth 1999). P. cinerea are listed as one of the World's 25 Most Endangered Primates by the IUCN Primate Specialist Group and there are likely less than a thousand individuals in existence (Ha 2004; Mittermeier et al. 2007).

In general, the main threats to douc langurs are hunting, the loss of their habitat, and trade across borders, even though doucs are considered protected (Lippold 1999; Timmins & Duckworth 1999). However, many protected areas are under-staffed and staffs are under-equipped, limiting the protection they actually afford to douc langurs (Lippold 1995). In Vietnam, enforcement of protective laws rarely occurs (Lippold & Vu 1998). In addition, literally millions of people live within protected areas within Vietnam (Lippold 1998).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Habitat destruction is a main threat to douc langurs and cutting of trees for firewood is the predominant threat habitats (Lippold 1998; Lippold & Vu 1998). Forest exploitation for a number of uses (including firewood for charcoal, resins, palm leaves, cycad and rattan) degrades douc langur habitats and damages food trees (Lippold & Vu 2008). Resin is collected from favored food trees, weakening them, and making them susceptible to termites, weather and natural disasters (Lippold & Vu 2008). Logging occurs for coffee, rubber, fruit tree, and cashew agriculture, but also other types of plantation agriculture (Lippold & Vu 2002; Ha 2004; Nadler et al. 2007). In Laos, habitat loss due to swidden agriculture and commercial logging threatens populations as it fragments populations and affects the ecology of the species (Timmins & Duckworth 1999). In Vietnam, logging is sometimes prevented in National Parks, but in nearby areas it does occur, destroying potential corridors between populations (Ha 2007). In addition, logging continues both illegally (including by the Vietnamese army) and legally (Lippold & Vu 1998; Ha 2004). Agricultural forest clearance and logging also threaten populations of P. cinerea (Mittermeier et al. 2007).

Development of habitats for tourism also threatens them in multifaceted ways. For example, at Son Tra, Vietnam, tourism development has cause new roadways to be built which has fragmented habitats. The road-building itself causes hunting, as road crews sometimes take douc langurs to eat (Lippold & Vu 2008).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Hunting and trapping can be the main threat to some douc langur populations, even in protected areas (Lippold 1998; Lippold & Vu 1998; Timmins & Duckworth 1999; Lippold & Vu 2008). Traps which have been placed for other species threaten douc langurs, as well as traps specifically designed to catch primates (Lippold & Vu 2008). P. cinerea are hunted even within protected areas and especially by the use of snares (Ha 2007; Mittermeier et al. 2007). Further, some traditional hunting of the grey-shanked langur does occur and sometimes, traditional hunters supply primates for consumption outside of forested areas (Lippold 1999; Ha 2007).

Gathering of douc langurs for trade is also one of the predominant threats to the species (Timmins & Duckworth 1999). They are gathered and certain body parts are used as medicines (including to make "monkey balm"), and infants are also collected as pets or for food (Davidson et al. 1997 cited in Timmins & Duckworth 1999; Lippold 1998; Lippold & Vu 2002). Particularly, adults are often shot for food and their infants are sold alive as pets or into international trade (especially for export to China), which is a widespread problem (Lippold 1995; 1999). For example, douc langurs are exported from Laos to both Thailand and Vietnam (reviewed in Timmins & Duckworth 1999). Also, P. nemaeus have been illegally purchased by Chinese zoos (Nadler et al. 2007).

Threat: Human Disturbance

P. nemaeus present in areas used as military installations have been shot as target practice (Lippold & Vu 2008). The Vietnam War was a significant factor in the destruction of douc langur habitats in the mid-twentieth century as well (Lippold 1977). In addition, habitats to which Agent Orange (a chemical defoliant) were applied during the war no longer contain douc langurs, even when regenerating (Lippold 1995).

Overpopulation by humans is also a potential threat, as individuals are being resettled in areas that were formerly sparsely populated, and often douc langur habitats (Lippold & Vu 1998).





Content last modified: September 3, 2009

Written by Kurt Gron.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2009 September 3. Primate Factsheets: Douc langur (Pygathrix) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2020 July 6.