Phayre’s leaf monkey

Pharey's Leaf Monkeys

Goggle-eyed primate

Phayre’s leaf monkey, also called Phayre’s langur, is a fascinating animal that is found in India. They are also found in Some parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. They are very amazing and rare to spot. These monkeys are an important part of the ecosystem and have gained much more importance as their population is getting reduced. 


Phayre’s leaf monkey, also known as the Phayre’s langur, is a species of Old World monkey found in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and India. The origins of Phayre’s leaf monkey can be traced back to a common ancestor of all langurs, which is thought to have lived in Africa around 30 million years ago.

Over time, some of these langurs migrated out of Africa and into Asia, where they diversified into different species. The ancestors of Phayre’s leaf monkey are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, where they evolved into the various species of langurs found in the region today.

It is not entirely clear how Phayre’s leaf monkey specifically reached India, but it is thought that they likely migrated from Southeast Asia into the Indian subcontinent. This could have occurred through a variety of means, such as land bridges that once connected the region, or by floating on rafts of vegetation across bodies of water.

Distribution and Population

Phayre’s leaf monkey, also known as Phayre’s langur, is a species of Old World monkey found in Southeast Asia, including India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. 

The population of Phayre’s leaf monkey in India is not well-known, but it is believed to be declining due to habitat loss, hunting, and other threats. The species is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It is estimated that there are some 1200 of these monkeys in India. 



Phayre’s leaf monkey, also known as Phayre’s langur, is a medium-sized primate found in Southeast Asia, including India. Phayre’s leaf monkey has a long, slender body with a tail that is almost as long as its body. They have distinctive black and white coats, with black on their faces, arms, legs, and back, and white fur on their chest, stomach, and legs. They have a crest of long fur on their head, which gives them a distinctive appearance. Adult Phayre’s leaf monkeys typically measure between 40-60 cm (16-24 inches) in length, not including their tail, which can be up to 75 cm (30 inches) long. They weigh between 5-10 kg (11-22 lbs). Male and female Phayre’s leaf monkeys look similar, but males tend to be slightly larger and have a more prominent crest of hair on their heads.


Phayre’s leaf monkeys are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees. They are social animals and live in groups, typically consisting of a dominant male, several females, and their offspring. They are active during the day and rest at night in trees.

The Phayre’s langur usually forms multi-male and multi-female with a presence of a dominant male alpha in the group. All-male groups, one-male groups, and one-female groups have also been observed though, less common. A high level of territoriality is seen within the species and between groups. The groups tend to maintain occupancy in their home range, showing philopatry.  Foraging is done by maintaining groups throughout different ranges. While foraging, groups tend to avoid ranging areas of neighbouring groups suggesting the formation of borders between them, agonistic interactions are observed in places of overlapping borders.


Female Phayre’s langurs are pregnant by an average age of 5.3 years with an average gestation period of 205 days. The females show promiscuous behaviour, studies do show a preference for more experienced males, usually of higher dominance. Polygynous relationships are common, where males offer protection to copulated females.

Females usually nurse their infants on average 22 months with weaning at around 19–21 months. The natal coat starts to become darker 26 weeks after birth.

Food Habits

Phayre’s leaf monkeys are primarily herbivorous, feeding on a diet of leaves, fruits, flowers, and sometimes insects. They are known to have a specialized digestive system that allows them to efficiently process tough, fibrous plant material.


Phayre’s leaf monkeys are found in a variety of forest habitats, including tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, and bamboo forests. They are primarily found in the northeastern states of India, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura, where they live in forested areas and along riverbanks.

Vulnerable Species

Phayre’s leaf monkey, also known as Phayre’s langur, is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means they are at high risk of becoming endangered in the near future. However, in some countries, including India, the species is listed as Vulnerable.

The species was first listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN in 1986, and its status was updated to Endangered in 2008. The primary reason for their decline is habitat loss and fragmentation due to deforestation, which is caused by expanding human populations, agricultural activities, and logging. Additionally, Phayre’s leaf monkeys are also threatened by hunting, primarily for their meat and body parts, which are used in traditional medicines.

Phayre’s leaf monkeys are also at risk from climate change, which can alter their habitat and food sources. The species is highly dependent on specific types of forest habitats and may not be able to adapt to changing conditions quickly enough to survive.

Conservation efforts for Phayre’s leaf monkeys are focused on protecting their habitat and reducing hunting pressure. Protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, have been established in several states where the species occurs, and some populations have been successfully reintroduced into areas where they were previously extirpated. Additionally, efforts to raise awareness about the species and its conservation needs are ongoing.

Protected Areas

Tripura’s Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the few places where these monkeys can be spotted. But the monkeys, that feast on leaves of a wide variety of plant leaves (folivores), have developed an affinity for rubber in the mushrooming commercial plantations in and around the protected area.

They are also found in Some parts of Meghalaya. They are also spotted in many tea, rubber and plantation fields.

Conservation of the Species

  • Protecting and conserving their natural habitats is one of the most effective ways to ensure the survival of these species. This can be achieved through the creation and management of protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife reserves, and the restoration of degraded habitats. 
  • Illegal hunting and poaching of these species is a major threat to their survival. Effective anti-poaching measures, such as increased patrols, community-based monitoring programs, and strong enforcement of wildlife laws, can help to reduce this threat. 
  • Raising public awareness about the importance of these species and their conservation can help to reduce the demand for their products, such as fur and body parts, and reduce human-wildlife conflict. 
  • Education and awareness programs aimed at local communities and hunters can also help to reduce the illegal hunting of these species. 
  • Gathering more information about these species, including their population sizes, distribution, and ecological needs can help to inform conservation efforts and improve our understanding of their conservation status. 
  • In some cases, conservation breeding programs may be necessary to support the recovery of populations that are at risk of extinction. This involves breeding individuals in captivity and then releasing them back into the wild, once sufficient populations have been established.


In conclusion, the Phayre’s leaf monkey, plays important roles in their ecosystems. However, these species are facing various threats to their survival, including habitat loss, illegal hunting, and human-wildlife conflict. To protect and conserve these species, a multi-faceted approach is needed, including habitat conservation, anti-poaching measures, education and awareness, research and monitoring, and conservation breeding. These solutions are not mutually exclusive and often need to be implemented in combination to effectively protect and conserve these species. Conservation organisations, governments, and local communities must work together to develop and implement effective conservation strategies to ensure the survival of these phenomenal species

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