Feb 11

The douc langurs – my favourite animals – are colourful, mysterious and rare, and all-round pretty remarkable creatures. 

Let me elaborate…

Photo of male red-shanked douc

Costume apes 

Sometimes referred to as the ‘costume apes’, the douc langurs look like they are wearing fancy dress; their striking facial features contrasting their boldly-patterned body. 

Long white whiskers even give these primates a wise appearance.

Bizarrely, the 3 species of douc langur are actually primarily distinguished by the colour of their shanks, with these being chestnut-red, black or stippled grey. 

Photo of red-shanked douc climbing along branch

Curious behaviours

The appealing appearance of the douc langurs is matched by their curious array of behaviors. 

Easily impressed, there is no need for flowers or chocolates to impress a partner, as the female solicits courtship with simple side-to-side movements of the head, all the while staring intently at the male with her mouth closed and chin thrust out. 

Douc langurs are also a fan of fine dining, preferring to eat only the most tender young leaves. However, their manners are less pleasant, as the fermentation of their leafy diet frequently causes them to burp! This messy eater also regularly litters the forest floor with half-eaten food. 

Photo of black-shanked douc

Rarity

Seeing a douc langur in the wild is unfortunately becoming a rare indulgence, making these animals even more special.

Threatened by illegal hunting and forest loss, their populations are rapidly decreasing. 

The grey-shanked douc is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is one of the world’s 25 Most Endangered Primates, while the other two species are both considered Endangered. 

Love species? 

Now that I have explained why I love douc langurs so much, why not tell us what animals or plants you love? You can even get involved with our ‘Love Species’ Campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Tell the world what your favourite species is and help to raise awareness about its plight. 

And this year you’ve got no excuse for not getting your loved one a card – you can simply send them one of our Valentines ecards! 

Alex Royan, ARKive Species Text Author