The Cat Ba Langur is a mid-sized leaf eating monkey found only on Cat Ba Island off the coast of northern Vietnam. The total population of this langur is approximately 70 animals, making it the rarest primate in Vietnam, and one of the rarest primates in the world. The Cat Ba Langur is regularly included in the IUCN Top 25 Most Endangered Primates list.
During the 1960s the Cat Ba Langur was one of the most commonly seen animals on Cat Ba Island, with an estimated population of 2400-2700 individuals. By the time the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project was established in November of 2000, hunting, primarily for traditional medicine, had caused the langur numbers to drop to between just 40 and 50 individuals. The present population of approximately 70 individuals is highly fragmented, and the combination of rapid development and poorly regulated tourism on Cat Ba poses difficult challenges for the conservation of the langurs.
Cat Ba Langurs, formally known as Trachypithecus poliocephalus, are born bright orange. As they age their fur darkens. Adults are black with yellow-white heads, and a gray inverted V shape that runs from the lower back to the thighs. All the animals have long, expressive tails and distinctive mohawks. The langurs are highly acrobatic, making their way over the jagged limestone cliffs and moving between trees in long leaps and stunning multi-meter drops. The Cat Ba Langur is active during the day and often sleeps in caves. Oddly, the langurs sometimes come to the water’s edge to drink seawater, a behavior not recorded in any other primate. Why they do this is one of the many unanswered questions we have about this lovely animal.
The Cat Ba Langur is currently protected under both national and international law and, at present, tourism of these langurs is restricted.
How you can help save the Cat Ba Langur
Donate essential equipment to Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project when you visit Cat Ba
Waterproof binoculars at 10x to 15x (something along the lines of the Nikon Monarch series) – for rangers, forest guardians, and langur guards
Point-and shoot cameras (for rangers and forest guardians to record activities, poaching, and species encountered) – waterproof best, but not strictly necessary
Write-in-the-Rain notebooks (mid to large size)
GPS units (Garmin eTrek30 and other eTrek models) – for rangers and forest guardians to record patrol routes, locations of poaching activity, locations of wildlife encountered, and points of interest.
Headlamps and waterproof flashlights (AA battery size)
Dry bags large enough for cameras and mid-sized gear.
Please get in touch with the project via email or Facebook to let them know you are bringing equipment and they can arrange to collect it and thank you or if this isn’t possible they will let you know where to drop it off.
Give a donation in person or online
You can help with the conservation work to save the Langurs just by clicking the link on their website to donate. If you’re going to Cat Ba you can also donate in person – just send the Conservation Project a message on Facebook or an email and let them know your visiting.
Give a donation and raise awareness by buying a T -shirt
Save the Cat Ba Langur T-shirts are available to purchase from the Green Mango restaurant in Cat Ba. Wear it on your travels and raise awareness to help the conversation project that is saving these beautiful creatures.
If you visit Cat Ba and are lucky enough to spot a Langur, you can also help them by following the wildlife encounter advice below…
Keep a distance, do not approach the animals.
For endangered animals like the langurs on Cat Ba Island keep at least 50m away.
Keep quiet. Loud and unfamiliar noises disturb wild animals had can have a pronounced effect on their behaviour over time.
Do not feed, touch, or throw things at any animals encountered.
If you are taking photographs, make sure that your flash is turned off.
Keep quiet when you leave if the animal is still in the area.
The information and advice in this post was kindly supplied to us by the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project. The photographs contained within are by Neahga Leonard and also supplied by the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project.