Image: Art G via Creative Commons
Mankind has done irreparable damage to these poor langurs. Their numbers were reduced dramatically during the Vietnam War when the their habitat was heavily bombed and sprayed with defoliants like Agent Orange. On top of that, soldiers used these harmless creatures for target practice (they sit still in the branches – they do not run away – they think they are hiding). Today, they are hunted for the pet trade, food and medicine. And, as if that were not enough, their habitat has been horribly decimated over recent years.
Even more recently, in 2012, two grey-shanked douc langurs were brutally tortured and killed, for fun, and a series of images of these disturbing and horrific actions were posted on the Facebook page of Vietnamese soldier, Nguyen Van Quang. One was a pregnant female.  This is humanity at its absolute lowest. And, the deed has gone virtually unpunished. Vietnam should hold its head in shame.
These acts of killing are not isolated. Shortly afterwards, a man identified as Bui Van Ngay was arrested for killing eighteen langurs in Vietnam’s Bu Gia Map National Park.
Only man is responsible for the decline of this species. Their numbers have now plunged to less than seven hundred individuals.
Grey-shanked douc langurs have light grey coats with pale undersides. They have black hands and black feet, and the lower legs are dark grey. They have a rusty-red ‘bib’ around the neck and a white throat with long white whiskers on the chin. Their faces are pale orange. They weigh between eighteen and twenty-four pounds (male to female) and their bodies and tails grow to roughly the same length of twenty-nine inches.
They are diurnal and arboreal. They move by leaping and brachiating through the trees. They live in groups of four to fifteen individuals (these numbers were once much higher) where the males are the dominant members. They communicate by touch, sound and visual signs.
The breeding season runs from August to December. There is a gestation period of up to one hundred and ninety days, and births will occur between January and August. One baby will be born weighing, at most, a mere seven hundred and twenty grammes.
Evergreen and semi-evergreen primary rainforests.
Central Highlands of Vietnam
What they eat
Primarily folivorous, although plant buds, fruits that haven’t ripened, seeds and flowers are also eaten. They don’t drink water unless they are on the ground, otherwise they get all the water they need from the food that is consumed.
Man is the greatest predator of the species. Through logging and agricultural conversion man has all but destroyed the habitat of the grey-shanked douc langur. He has callously and unremittingly hunted this little monkey for food and traditional medicine. Upon seeing humans, grey-shanked douc langurs are known to hide unmoving in the trees instead of beating a hasty retreat. This has made them an easy target for cold-blooded, grasping hunters.
Status: Critically Endangered
The grey-shanked douc langur is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered. It is one of “The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates.” This species is listed in CITES Appendix I, and listed on Appendix 1B of Decree 32 (2006) in Viet Nam. The grey-shanked douc langurs live primarily in protected areas, but the law enforcers are neglectful, leaving the species vulnerable. Currently, the population is estimated to be less than seven hundred individuals. Global response to the douc’s dilemma has been overwhelming. From the World Wild Life Fund to the Frankfurt Zoological Society and over to Vietnam itself, much is now being done to save this species. Tragic as the event may have been, not only did the torture and killings of the grey-shanked douc langurs in Vietnam spark universal outrage, it also drew the everyday world’s attention to the plight of this endearing little primate. So now, there is much support all round.
“Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it”