Francois’ Langur (Trachypithecus francoisi)
Photo: Xu Jianming
The endangered primate Francois’ Langur (Trachypithecus francoisi) is found in southwestern China to northeastern Vietnam, but the population is rapidly dwindling.
It is feared that this primate may join the list of highly endangered species. Its closest relatives – Cat Ba Langur, White-headed Langur and Delancour’ Langur – are among the most endangered primates in the world.
Francois’ Langur’s habitat is forest areas close to the caves created in weathered karst where family groups regularly sleep. It is estimated that about 180 – 200 individuals live in small groups scattered in fragmented pockets of forest in Vietnam. These groups can be in excess of 20 individuals but due to pressure from hunting and logging there are now less than 1500 animals remaining in the wild.
A PRCF survey conducted in Kim Hy Nature Reserve (Bac Kan Province) in 2009 spotted only three individuals from a population of 20 reported in 1997. Only five individuals were spotted in Ba Be National Park, Bac Kan Province, from the population of 13 reported in a 2004 PARC* project survey.
In May 2011 PRCF field staff located four new groups of Francois’ Langur in the Lam Binh Forest Area – one group had more than 20 animals. This discovery brings the total number of confirmed groups to six. Local communities have provided PRCF with detailed reports about the existence of two other groups. Recent evidence of cave occupation was also recorded: in all, over 25 active sleeping caves were located.
Counts so far indicate a total of between 60 to 75 animals. Unfortunately PRCF staff also confirmed that eight langurs were killed in 2010 by hunters, so at this annual loss rate these groups are in serious danger. Another significant threat comes from selective logging of high value timber species within critical habitat.
The discovery of Francois’ Langur in the Lam Binh forest area confirms previous findings that this area holds the most significant known Francois’ Langur population in Vietnam. Only China has a higher population than Vietnam – and generally in areas better protected than locations in Vietnam.
Observed and anecdotal evidence of the critical reduction in Francois’ Langur family groups and numbers of individual animals in Vietnam is of considerable concern. Conservation initiatives are urgently required for both the animals and their habitat.
PRCF’s future Francois’ Langur conservation projects include:
- participatory land use planning and three-dimensional mapping of Francois’ Langur sleeping caves and adjacent forest areas that are part of the animal’s home range
- community involvement in monitoring Francois’ Langur family groups, identifying home range, collecting scientific data and documenting threats
- awareness raising and education activities involving local high schools, Youth Union and village communities
- community based planning for conservation of the Francois’ Langur and its habitat
- payments for ecosystem services to provide long-term and sustainable funding mechanisms for conservation activities
- community-oriented nature-based tourism involving village home stays and high-end tourism to view Francois’ Langur and its habitat.
* Protected Areas for Resource Conservation (PARC)