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Gray langur


CITES: Appendix I (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: S. ajax: EN; S. hypoleucos: VU; S. hector, S. priam: NT; S. dussumieri, S. entellus, S. schistaceus: LC (What is Red List?)
Key: EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near threatened, NT = Near threatened, LC = Least concern, LC = Least concern, LC = Least concern
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

Semnopithecus entellus
Semnopithecus entellus
Photo: Kamal Kumar Dua

Gray langurs are protected by laws in India which forbid their killing and capture, alive or dead, although enforcement is a problem and most people do not even know that they are a protected species (Choudhhury 2001). While many populations are stable, a decline is seen in some areas (Srinivasulu & Nagulu 2001).

There are around 300,000 gray langurs in India (Mukherjee 2001). It is estimated that there are around 1000-1500 S. entellus in China and the species is considered endangered in the country (Wang et al. 1999; Zhang et al. 2002).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

In general, some of the biggest threats to natural forest habitats including gray langur habitats in India include logging, encroachment as well as plantation and slash-and-burn (jhum) agriculture (Choudhury 2001; Rao & Bhatnagar 2001). Other local activities which may threaten or degrade gray langur habitats include open cast mining, fire damage, grazing, ground litter removal, and non-timber forest products including wood for fuel, fodder, fruits, gums, seeds, and medicinal plants (Pirta et al. 1997; Rao & Bhatnagar 2001).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Gray langurs are often kept as pets and are sometimes found for sale in markets. In fact, because of their role in the Hindu religion, it is generally not considered detrimental to keep or capture the animals. Indeed, they are sometimes kept for religious purposes by Hindu priests and for training for roadside performance (Ahmed 2001). Religious protections aside, some groups with different religious beliefs will hunt common langurs for food and for medicinal purposes (Ahmed 2001; Kumara & Singh 2004). Finally, various parts of gray langurs are sometimes kept as amulets with positive effects for the bearer and obviously, the death of the animal is a prerequisite for the procurement of such parts (Ahmed 2001). Gray langurs are also sometimes taken for biomedical research, and are sold for under $20 (Ahmed 2001).

Threat: Accidental Mortality

Gray langurs are often found around or on roads due in part to human provisioning, and also use roads for walking, playing, predator avoidance and foraging. As a result, even in protected areas, mortality due to automobile collisions can be high, accounting for as much as a quarter of total mortality, as is the case at the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan, India (Chhangani 2004).

Threat: Persecution

In general, because gray langurs are considered sacred in many areas of India, they are generally not considered to be pests, a fact augmented by their generally less aggressive nature than other primates (Southwick & Siddiqi 2001). Still, gray langurs commonly crop-raid, and steal from homes which causes persecution by people (Chaudhuri et al. 2004). Attitudes are changing somewhat, partially due to an increase in the secularization of society and the animals are persecuted more than they have been in the past. Further, sometimes people will feed the animals around and in temples, but if they are found in their own houses, they will treat them as a nuisance (Manohar 1999). However, in urban habitats, gray langurs may steal and bite people to get food, reinforcing changes in attitudes and increasing persecution by humans. This may result in the deaths of gray langurs (Pirta 1982).

Threat: Natural Disasters

El Niño events can cause droughts which can severely affect gray langur populations. For example, as a result of such phenomena, two monsoons failed between 1999-2001 and natural-habitat langur populations suffered large reductions. However, urban-dwelling populations were able to weather such events with only minor population losses due to provisioning (Waite et al. 2007).

Threat: Changes in Native Species Dynamics

The destruction of large roosting trees by people has the effect of permitting easier access of predators to langurs, possibly increasing mortality due to predation (Pirta 1982).





Content last modified: October 28, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 October 28. Primate Factsheets: Gray langur (Semnopithecus) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2014 April 20.