They are sometimes simply referred to as the red-shanked doucs

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.

Red-shanked douc langurs live in three countries of Indochina: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. They live in evergreen, semi-evergreen, and limestone forests up to 5,200 feet (1600 m) and spend most of their time in the middle to upper levels of the canopy. 

In Vietnam, red-shanked doucs inhabit a region from Nghe An to Kon Tum Province. In Laos, their range extends from the Nam Ghong Provincial Area to the central northeast. Their Cambodian distribution is much less clear, as sightings are rare and difficult to corroborate. In 2018, researchers captured photographs of red-shanked doucs in Cambodia’s Virachey National Park, but this area lies on the border of Laos and Cambodia, so it is possible that the doucs were crossing over from Laos. Nonetheless, experts think northern Cambodia probably hosts some red-shanked doucs.

  • Douc” is an ancient Vietnamese word thought to mean “monkey.”
  • The red-shanked douc langur, along with the gray-shanked and black-shanked douc langur, belongs to the subfamily of Old World leaf-eating monkeys known as Colobinae.
  • Red-shanked douc langurs are genetically similar to gray-shanked douc langurs; however, they are considered a different species due to their different biological features.
This means that there is an extremely high risk that they could become extinct in the wild.

The population of red-shanked douc langurs has been halved in the last forty years through a combination of illegal hunting, habitat loss, and war effects. Laos has been especially impacted—the country hosts the largest group of red-shanked doucs, but conservation efforts in the area are negligible. 

Hunting for subsistence and medicinal use is currently their greatest threat—their behavioral patterns make them a particularly easy target, and regulations on hunting are notoriously difficult to enforce. Between 2015-2018, Vietnam’s Bach Ma National Park Forestry Protection Department confiscated 28 pounds (13 kg) of red-shanked douc meat. Habitat loss is another major problem. Much of the doucs’ natural habitat in Vietnam has been cleared for human use in the post-war period as Vietnam’s population has risen. Notably, habitat loss and hunting form a vicious cycle for red-shanked doucs, wherein the fragmentation of langur habitats increases access by hunters to their remote forest homes. 

Additionally, the Vietnam War had a detrimental impact on langur populations. Their habitats were bombed and sprayed with Agent Orange, a highly toxic defoliant; soldiers also used the monkeys for target practice.

  1. Red-shanked douc langurs are wild animals. Their diet and environmental needs cannot be adequately met or replicated in human living conditions. 
  2. To become pets, baby primates are stolen from their mothers. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
  3. When taken from the wild, their mothers are killed to capture the baby.
  4. Primates are never domesticated. They always remain wild. 
  5. 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.
  6. Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping primates and endangered species are pets.
  7. Red-shanked douc langurs belong with other langurs in the forests of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.

Visit the RED-SHANKED DOUC LANGUR Primate Species Profile

 Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2019. You may freely use and share these learning activities for educational purposes. 
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