Trachypithecus leucocephalus | White-headed Langur


Good spot: Chongzuo Eco-Park, Chongzuo Nature Reserve, Guangxi Province, China

Adult White-headed Langur

© Niu Kefeng

Chongzuo Eco-Park, China

Seeing this Species

2008 New York Times article describes the work of Chinese biologist Pan Wenshi in saving this species. 


Chongzuo Eco-Park, Chongzuo Nature Reserve, Guangxi Province, China

This reserve is small (24 sq km) and quite close to the Vietnam border. In the article it sounds as if, ironically, even as the langurs and forest are recovering, the langurs are actually becoming harder to see. All the reforestation is blocking them!  


Probability of Success: ?


Overlapping species


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Trachypithecus leucocephalus is a monotypic species (no subspecies).


This species was discovered quite recently. It was first described as a new species of genus Presbytis, the Flower

Langur or the White-headed Langur (Presbytis leucocephalus) in 1955 [1]. It was then recognized as a species of genus TrachypithecusSince then, its status as a species or a subspecies of the François’ Langur (Trachypithecus francoisi) has been debated for more than 40 years. While some recognized its independent species status [1,2,3], others considered it a subspecies (T. f. leucocephalus) [4,5,6]. 


This Chinese White-headed Langur is morphologically and genetically closely related to the Vietnamese Cat Ba Langur, which resulted in yet another debate of its affinity as a species, or subspecies. However, with regard to its distribution, these two langurs do not overlap. While the White-Headed Langur is found in the southern Guangxi Province in China, the Cat Ba Langur is restrictd to a few limestone hills on Cat Ba Island on the Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam.


Currently, it is recognized as a distinct species separate from Cat Ba Langur of Vietnam [7].


Whatever its precise taxonomic status, the White-headed Langur is important because of its narrow distribution,
small isolated population, and special Karst habitat.



Guangxi Province, China


IUCN Conservation Status

Critically Endangered (as T. p. leucocephalus)




[1] Tan B., 1955. Apes in China. Bulletin of Biology 3: 17-23 (in Chinese).

[2] Eudey A.A., 1987. Action Plan for Asia Primate Conservation. IUCN-The World Conservation Union.

[3] Lu L.R. & Li Z.Y., 1991. On taxonomy of white-headed leaf monkey. Journal of Guangxi Normal University 11: 12-16 (in Chinese).

[4] Li Z. & Ma S., 1980. The taxonomy of white-headed langur. Acta Taxonomica Sinica 5: 440-442 (in Chinese).
[5] Shen L. & Li H., 1982. White-headed leaf monkey in Guangxi. Journalof Guangxi Normal College 3: 71–80 (in Chinese).

[6] Wang W., Forstner M.R.J., Zhang Y.P., Liu Z.M., Wei Y., Huang H.Q., Hu H.G., Xie Y.X., Wu D.H. & Melnick D.J., 1997. A phylogeny of Chinese leaf monkeys using mitochondrial ND3-ND4 gene sequences. International Journal of Primatology 18, 305-320.

[7] Mittermeier R.A., Rylands A.B. & Wilson D.E., 2013. Handbook of the Mammals of the World: Primates. Vol. 3. Lynx Edicons: Barcelona.



Page Last Updated: 12 April 2020