Photo courtesy of ©Andie Ang


They are also known as banded surilis or banded leaf monkeys.

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.

The Raffles’ banded langur is native to the southern tip of Malaysia and the island nation of Singapore. Their distribution and habitat are limited to small pockets of forests. In Singapore, they are mostly found in the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. While in Malaysia, they are only found in the states of Johor and Pahang. These regions are characterized by humid tropical jungles with lots of plant and animal diversity.

Raffles’ banded langurs used to be widespread in the early 20th century but most of the native forests were cut down for agriculture and human development. Today small populations of Raffles’ banded langurs can be found in secondary-growth and swamp forests.

  • As of 2021, there are about 300 Raffles’ banded langurs in Malaysia, and 68 individuals in Singapore.
  • Raffles’ banded langurs are the largest non-human primate in Singapore.
  • They have large multi-chambered stomachs that can digest leaves and toxins.
  • Baby Raffles’ banded langurs are born with white fur and cross-shaped black strips of fur on their back.
  • They communicate in high-frequency calls that travel short distances.
  • Raffles’ banded langurs have been observed grooming long-tailed macaques.
They are at an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild.

Their low population numbers and decreasing habitat has reduced genetic diversity among Raffles’ banded langurs, which affects their ability to successfully reproduce and grow.

Habitat loss is the main cause for the declining Raffles’ banded langur population. Singapore and Malaysia have a long colonial history of converting native forests into palm and rubber tree plantations for economic purposes. The development of roads has further divided forests into smaller patches, which forces langurs to travel on the ground to move between habitats, which in turn results in unfortunate vehicle accidents. Human encroachment into the langurs’ habitat has also introduced predators like domestic dogs that are known to kill Raffles’ banded langurs.

In Malaysia and, particularly, Singapore, there are only pockets of forested areas that can adequately provide enough space and food to support langur families. And these habitats are shared with other primates and competitors. Multiple families of Raffles’ banded langurs need to thrive for a population to be stable. Given that females give birth to only one young at a time and there are at least 2 years between births, the rate of their population growth is slow. This means that even small reductions to their habitat can have devastating effects on the survival of these langurs.

  1. This is a Critically Endangered species that is protected by several conventions. Trade in Raffles’ banded langurs is illegal.
  2. Raffles’ banded langurs are wild animals. Their dietary and environmental needs cannot be adequately met or replicated in human living conditions. 
  3. To become pets, baby primates are stolen from their mothers. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
  4. When taken from the wild, their mothers are killed to capture the baby.
  5. Primates are never domesticated. They always remain wild. 
  6. 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.
  7. Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping primates and endangered species are pets.
  8. Raffles’ banded langurs belong with other banded langurs in the rainforests of Singapore and Malaysia. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.

Visit the RAFFLES’ BANDED LANGUR Primate Species Profile

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