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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2023



Cat Ba Langur

Family : Cercopithecidae
Species : Trachypithecus poliocephalus

Head-body length : 49-59 cm
Tail length : 80-90 cm
Weight : up to 7 kg ?

The Cat Ba Langur, or Golden-headed Langur, is one of the world's most critically endangered primates. In 2006, there were only an estimated 64 surviving in Vietnam, on limestone hills on the island of Cat Ba in the Gulf of Tonkin.

In southern China, a population of around 700-800 of a closely related subspecies, the White-headed Langur T. p. leucocephalus, survives, though this may well represent a separate species entirely.

The species name 'poliocephalus' translates as 'grey-headed', however the head colour is typically pale yellowish, grading downwards to orange-brown on the upper chest. Its body fur is mainly dark brown, but with a pale grey area on the rump. Infants are bright orange.

The Cat Ba Langur is a lowland species, occurring up to 200 metres elevation. Like its cousin, the Hatinh Langur, it makes use of limestone caves in which to roost at night. The average group size is just 3 to 4 individuals.

The species is both arboreal and terrestrial, but they are comfortable resting on rocky outcrops by day. They feed on young leaves, leaf shoots, flowers, forest fruits and bark.

These langurs are under many threats including hunting for traditional medicine, disturbance by tourism, and habitat fragmentation and in-breeding.

It is postulated that the ancestors of the Cat Ba Langur arrived on the island of Cat Ba during the last ice age, when sea levels were lower, and they have been isolated there ever since.

Fig 1 : A group of Cat Ba Langur rest on a limestone outcrop at Cat Ba National Park, Vietnam

Fig 2 : Parent with bright orange infant.

All photos extracted from video taken on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam by Andie Ang.

References : M5

Groves, C. P. (2001). Primate taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC. 350 pp.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Links :

The Cat Ba Langur: a primate walks the razor痴 edge of extinction -, 31 Aug 2015


Fig 1
ゥ  Andie Ang
Fig 2
ゥ  Andie Ang