BECOMING A PRIMATE PRO... SORT OF
10 PRIMATE SPECIES YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF
#2 WESTERN PURPLE-FACE LANGUR
Semnopithecus vetulus nestor
As a subspecies of the purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus), this primate has three parts to its name: the genus, Semnopithecus, the species, vetulus, and the subspecies, nestor
Also known as the NORTH LOWLAND WETZONE PURPLE-FACED LANGUR or the WESTERN PURPLE-FACED LEAF MONKEY
Common names are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by country, region, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.
Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. They are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language you may speak. They are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. Scientific names prevent misidentification. Those names only change if a species, or its genus, is officially redesignated by experts.
Western purple-faced langurs are endemic to the tropical rainforests in southwest Sri Lanka around Colombo, the country’s largest city. This region of Sri Lanka is called the wet zone because it receives up to twice as much annual rainfall as the rest of the island (98 in or 250 cm).
- 90% of their rainforest is gone, forcing them to live alongside human communities in gardens and on rooftops
- Because of their forced relocation, their leaf-based diet is being replaced by cultivated fruit from these gardens
- The consequences of this diet change are not yet known, but there is cause for concern since they, like all langurs, are physiologically adapted to digest a diet of leaves
- One of the world’s 25 most endangered primate species
In 2009, Sri Lanka emerged from its 26-year civil war with one of the faster growing economies in the world, and that growth has triggered mass deforestation to make room for new developments. Forest fragmentation can cause many issues for every species.
Arboreal animals (those that live in trees), like western purple-faced langurs, are unwilling to cross roads and large patches of bare ground. Thus, when a forest is physically cut off from other habitats, it becomes like an island to some of the inhabitants. The resulting lack of genetic diversity makes the species as a whole more vulnerable to disease outbreaks and other threats.
In addition, increasing human-wildlife conflicts between people and monkeys have caused these langurs to be labelled as pests because they raid kitchens and damage roofs. Langurs are also electrocuted from powerlines and attacked by dogs.
- Western purple-faced langurs are wild animals. Their diet and environmental needs cannot be adequately met or replicated in human living conditions.
- To become pets, baby primates are stolen from their mothers. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
- When taken from the wild, their mothers are killed to capture the baby.
- Primates are never domesticated. They always remain wild.
- Caged primates are very unhappy and frustrated. They are likely to resist confinement. They are quick and cause damaging bites and scratches. Some die as a result of their captivity.
- Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping primates and endangered species are pets.
- Western purple-faced langurs belong with other langurs in the forests of Sri Lanka. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.