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Dusky leaf monkey

Trachypithecus obscurus

Photo: Dusky leaf monkey
Weights and measures
Length 56 cm
Weight from 7 to 9 kg
Animal description
The Dusky Leaf Monkey, scientifically known as Trachypithecus obscurus, is a captivating primate species predominantly found in the forests of Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, and some parts of Sumatra. This species is also affectionately known as the Spectacled Langur or Spectacled Leaf Monkey due to the distinctive white rings around its eyes, which starkly contrast with its dark facial fur, giving the appearance of eyeglasses.

Typically, Dusky Leaf Monkeys exhibit a grey to dark brown fur coat with a lighter underbelly, which provides a form of camouflage within the dense canopy of tropical rainforests where they predominantly reside. They are medium-sized primates, with adults reaching lengths of about 40 to 60 cm (16 to 24 inches) and weighing between 5 to 8 kg (11 to 18 pounds). Their tails are long and thin, often measuring up to 70 cm (28 inches), which aids in balance and agility as they navigate through the treetops.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Dusky Leaf Monkey is its diet. As folivores, their diet primarily consists of a variety of leaves, along with fruit, flowers, and shoots. They have a complex stomach that allows them to ferment and break down the cellulose in leaves, a process that provides them with the necessary nutrients. This adaptation is crucial for their survival in the forest canopy, where leaves are abundant but low in calories.

Socially, Dusky Leaf Monkeys live in groups typically ranging from 5 to 20 individuals, though larger groups are not uncommon. These groups are often matriarchal, with females playing a dominant role in the hierarchy. Communication within the group is vital and is facilitated through a range of vocalizations, body postures, and facial expressions. This social structure plays a crucial role in their survival, offering protection against predators and aiding in the location of food sources.

Reproduction in Dusky Leaf Monkeys is relatively slow, with females giving birth to a single offspring after a gestation period of about 145 to 200 days. The infants are born with a strikingly different appearance from the adults, featuring bright orange fur and blue eyes, which gradually change to the typical dark fur and white-ringed eyes over the first six months of life.

Despite their beauty and ecological role, Dusky Leaf Monkeys face significant threats from habitat destruction, hunting, and the pet trade. Deforestation and agricultural expansion have led to a loss of their natural habitat, fragmenting populations and reducing access to food sources. Moreover, they are sometimes hunted for food or captured to be sold as pets, further threatening their survival.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Dusky Leaf Monkey, including habitat preservation, legal protection, and awareness campaigns to reduce hunting and pet trade. Protecting their natural habitats is crucial for the survival of this species, ensuring that these unique primates continue to thrive in the forests of Southeast Asia.
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