Day of lost species

November 30 is designated the Remembrance Day for Lost Species. I think I will use this time to refresh my memories of Phayre’s leaf monkey (Trachypithecus Phayrei, also called the spectacled langur). We saw a family group of six or seven (this included a juvenile) in Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary, sitting on a tree, munching away at leaves. At first we thought they were the familiar rhesus monkey, but when we looked at them we realized they were quite different. They are smaller, and the white fur around the eyes, the spectacles, is as distinctive as the moustache. The group size and behaviour was typical. When the juveniles are 4-5 years old they leave the group. Individuals can live up to an age of abbout 20 years.

Leaf monkeys developed in Southeast Asia about three million years ago and have radiated into about twenty living species, mostly threatened. The case of the Indian population of Phayre’s leaf monkey is typical. They are well protected in a few isolated sanctuaries, there are some international efforts at conservation, but the protected areas are small and well-separated from each other. As a result the populations are now quite inbred. The situation is not much better over the rest of its range: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and southern China. Much of this region is densely populated, and forest land is being lost fairly rapidly.

The spectacled langur is classed as “endangered” by IUCN. If habitat loss continues, it will inevitably slide to “critical” and then to “extinct”. I have encountered many beautiful and strange species since 2005, when I started to visit wildlife reserves around India. Sadly, a large fraction of them are threatened.

Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

19 thoughts on “Day of lost species”

  1. I wonderful reminder of the damage we are doing to the world we live in I.J., good for you for recognizing and addressing. Hopefully as the world becomes more aware of the critical nature of our environment, more will be done to address it. Sadly it may be too late for many species. Your little monkeys are adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very informative. I’m sure habitat loss applies to a very high percentage of animals. Is there anything that realistically be done? Even when encroachment is stopped, there still is a confining border. A sad situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes green corridors help to join patches of forest. India has a network of these between some of the tiger reserves. There are borders, but the population is less fragmented than before. This helps against inbreeding.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to hear there are corridors in some places – but surely we do not do enough. many speciea are already gone forever, and mankind is just heading on headlessly. All species are needed to keep up the biodiversity necessary for the world to survive. A very informative and necessary post.

    Liked by 1 person

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