Presbytis femoralis | Raffles' Banded Langur

 

Good spot: Thomson Nature Park, Singapore

© Andie Ang

Thomson Nature Park, Singapore

Primatology

 

Taxonomy & Occurrence

Presbytis femoralis is a monotypic species (no subspecies). It is found in Singapore, and the Malaysian states of Johor and Pahang [1].

 

Up until 2019, three subspecies of P. femoralis were recognised: P. f. femoralis from Singapore and Malaysia, P. f. percura from Sumatra, and P. f. robinsoni from Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Genetic data suggested that at least P. f. femoralis and P. f. robinsoni were different species [2] which was also in agreement with their morphological characters. However, resolving all subspecies-level boundaries within banded langurs required data for P. f. percura, which was the least studied among them [3]. Most recently, DNA mitochondrial genomes were obtained for P. f. percura, and based on multiple species delimitation algorithms (PTP, ABGD, Objective Clustering) applied to a dataset covering 40 species and 43 subspecies of Asian colobines, all three subspecies of banded langurs were resurrected to species [1].

 

IUCN Conservation Status

Endangered (proposed to be Critically Endangered following elevation to species status)

 

The Raffles' Banded Langur was first described from Singapore in 1838, making Singapore its type locality. Being leaf monkeys, they have large multi-chambered stomachs with microflora that assists with digestion (characteristic of colobine primates). Infants are born white in color with a cruciform black pattern on the back (characteristic of Presbytis) [4].

 

 

Seeing this Species

 

Before you meet the Raffles' Banded Langurs, you'll probably hear a machine gun. No need to panic. These are just the monkeys' territorial calls. As with most diurnal primates, they are most active early in the morning and during the late afternoon. They are almost entirely arboreal so you'll need to look up. During the months of January-February and June-July, you have a good chance of seeing infants [4]. 

 

Once widespread, the monkeys are now restricted to a small area within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve*. Good news is, you can (somewhat) predict where the 60 individuals are [1,5]. 

 

Thomson Nature Park

The Thomson Nature Park is a buffer park next to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It was opened in October 2019 and is part of an important habitat for the Raffles' Banded Langurs. The closest bus stop to the entrance of the park is at Bus Stop #56061 (After Tagore Drive) along Upper Thomson Road, with bus services 138, 167, 169, 860, and 980. There are five trails (all are easy walking trails) in the park, and I recommend completing all of them for a good chance to spot the langurs!

 

Upper Seletar Reservoir Park

This scenic park can be reached by the same bus that brings you to the Singapore Zoo (SBS loop service 138, take from the Ang Mo Kio terminal). Before it reaches the zoo, alight at the "Upper Seletar Reservoir" bus stop along Mandai Road. From the park signboard, stroll in the 1.5km Mandai Road Track 7 trail. There is a higher chance of seeing the leaf monkeys past the golf course and carparks.  

 

Lower Peirce Reservoir Park

The Lower Peirce Reservoir Park features accessible boardwalk trails, with two of them bordering a part of the Lower Peirce reservoir. There, you might get lucky with not only the langurs, but also the elusive gliding mammals - colugos! 

 

All three areas are located close to each other and can reasonably be completed within a day. If there are no langurs, you will still see families of Long-tailed Macaques and other wildlife along the way. At the end of the walks, the Indian Casuarina Curry Restaurant (at 136 Casuarina Road) is a treat.

 

*They are no longer found in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve since the 1990s. However, with the completion of the Eco-Link in 2014 connecting the two nature reserves, the Raffles' Banded Langurs may recolonise Bukit Timah. 

 

Probability of success: ◆ ◆ ◇ ◇ ◇

 

Overlapping species: Greater Slow Loris, Long-tailed Macaque

 

 

Habituation (part I) during study: the monkeys are curious

Video by Andie Ang

Thomson Nature Park, Singapore

Habituation (part II): they don't run away anymore!

Video by Andie Ang

Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, Singapore

© Con Foley

Panti Bird Sanctuary, Malaysia

Other sites:

Panti Bird Sanctuary, Malaysia

From Singapore, cross the Woodlands border checkpoint to get into Johor, Malaysia, and once there, take a cab towards Kota Tinggi. When at Kota Tinggi on highway Jalan Jemaluang, continue past the Gunung Panti Recreational Forest (this is not it), and look out for road marker # on the left. Right after marker #270, you will see old WWII bunkers, and a sign that points you into Panti Bird Sanctuary (Suaka Burung Panti) on the left. It takes about 90 minutes on cab and costs $55 (SG$70) one way. There is a new administration office with haphazard system of issuing permits and collecting a small fee, but it is closed most of the time (even in that case, there is no problem walking in). Walk on the main trail (it starts with paved road and continues on dirt road, which is relatively easy to walk on). 

 

Getting away from Panti is not as easy as getting there, so you might want to arrange with the cab driver to pick you up once you are done. Hailing a cab by the road may not be easy. Alternatively, wait by the roadside next to the bunker for a bus that takes you into the Kota Tinggi bus terminal. Buses come every hour (but not with a fixed schedule), and cost $2 (RM$6). There, a cab to Singapore costs $45. If you plan on spending more days for Panti, Rest Inn Hotel in Kota Tinggi is relatively cheap and good, where you can also call a cab to send you to Panti before dawn ($8). 

 

Panti Bird Sanctuary is also very popular with Singaporean and Malaysian birders.

 

Overlapping species: Greater Slow Loris, Long-tailed Macaque, Southern Pig-tailed Macaque, Dusky Langur, White-handed Gibbon

 

Local contacts: Andie Ang (andie.ang@primatewatching.com)

 

 

A Long-tailed Macaque enjoying a wild fruit

© Andie Ang

Thomson Nature Park, Singapore

Composite photo of a gap crossing

© Nick Baker

Thomson Nature Park, Singapore

References

[1] Ang A., Roesma D.I., Nijman V., Meier R., Srivathsan A. and Rizaldi, 2019. Faecal DNA to the rescue: Shotgun sequencing of non-invasive samples reveals two subspecies of Southeast Asian primates to be Critically Endangered species. bioRxiv: https://doi.org/10.1101/867986

[2] Ang A., D'Rozario V. Jayasri S.L., Lees C.M., Li T.J. and Luz S., 2016. Species Action Plan for the conservation of Raffles' banded langur (Presbytis femoralis femoralis) in Malaysia and Singapore. IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, MN, USA.

[3] Rizaldi, Ilham K., Prasetio I., Lee Z., Jabbar S. and Ang A., 2019. Preliminary study on the distribution and conservation status of the East Sumatran banded langur Presbytis femoralis percura in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Asian Primates Journal 8: 25-36.

[4] Ang A., Ismail M. and Meier R., 2010. Reproduction and infant pelage coloration of the banded leaf monkey (Mammalia: Primates: Cercopithecidae) in Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 58: 411-415.

[5] Ang A., Srivathsan A., Md.-Zain B., Ismail M. and Meier R., 2012. Low genetic variability in the recovering urban banded leaf monkey population of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 60: 589-594.

 

 

 

Page Last Updated: 10 April 2020

This site remains a work in progress. Links are in blue

Content by Andie Ang unless otherwise stated

© 2014-2020 | Andie Ang

CONTACT