Presbytis robinsoni | Robinson's Banded Langur

 

Good spot: Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

© Nick Baker

Old Upper Thomson Road, Singapore

Primatology

 

Taxonomy & Occurrence

Raffles' Banded Langur (P. f. femoralis) -- Singapore, and Johor, Malaysia

 

East Sumatran Banded Langur (P. f. percura) -- East-central Sumatra, Indonesia

 

Robinson's Banded Langur (P. f. robinsoni) -- North Malay Peninsula (Malaysia, Thailand)

 

IUCN Conservation Status

Endangered

 

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).

 

 

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 mid-afternoon. They are almost entirely arboreal so you'll need to look up. During the months of January-Febuary and June-July, you have a good chance of seeing infants [1]. 

 

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 40 individuals are [2]. 

 

Upper Seletar Reservoir Park

This (free) 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.  

 

Old Upper Thomson Road

From Upper Seletar Reservoir Park (above), take the same loop bus 138 from the opposite side of road and alight at "After SLE (Seletar Expressway)" bus stop. Cross the roads and the entrance to Old Upper Thomson Road is within sight. Smooth and winding, this 8km road was part of a former Grand Prix race circuit from 1960s to 1970s. After 1.5km on the road, a right turn at the signboard continues into the Upper Peirce Reservoir Park. There's no way to exit except to backtrack to the Park entrance (5km in total); from there, a right turn will lead you to the remaining 1.5km of Old Upper Thomson Road. Look out for the monkeys on both forested sides of the road. 

 

Lower Peirce Reservoir Park boardwalk

At the end of Old Upper Thomson Road (above), the 900m Lower Peirce boardwalk (also free) provides another chance to see the enigmatic leaf monkeys. 

 

All three trails can reasonably be completed in one day. If there are no leaf monkeys, you will still see (plenty of) Long-tailed Macaques throughout the day. At the end of the walks, the Indian Casuarina Curry Restaurant 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 Banded Langurs may recolonize 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

Old Upper Thomson Road, 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

 

Peninsular Thailand

This is a different subspecies (P. f. robinsoni)

 

Eastern Sumatra, Indonesia

This is a different subspecies (P. f. percura)

 

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

 

 

Long-tailed Macaques share the semi-urban habitat

© Andie Ang

Old Upper Thomson Road, Singapore

Composite photo of a gap crossing

© Nick Baker

Old Upper Thomson Road, Singapore

References

[1] 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.

[2] 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

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Content by Andie Ang unless otherwise stated

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