Tuesday 21 May
Black-crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Black-crested gibbon fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Black-crested gibbon description
The black-crested gibbon is one of the world’s most endangered primates and may be on the very brink of extinction (4). Males and females are strikingly different in appearance with males almost completely black, but sometimes with white or buff cheeks, and females a golden or buff colour with variable black patches, including a black streak on the head (2). The common name of this species comes from the tuft of longer fur on the crown of the head (5). Both sexes have the characteristic slender shape of the ‘lesser ape’ with long arms and legs, grasping hands and feet, and no tail (6). A variety of calls are produced, which are amplified with the aid of a throat sac below the chin; males and females engage in duets, in which males grunt, squeal and whistle whilst females sing rising notes and twitter (2).
- Also known as
- black crested gibbon, black gibbon, crested gibbon, Indochinese gibbon.
- Hylobates concolor, Nomascus harlani, Nomascus henrici, Nomascus niger.
- Gibbon À Favoris Blancs, Gibbon Noir. Top
Gibbon Conservation Alliance:
BBC Wildlife Finder:
- Living in trees.
- In some Primates, a method of locomotion when the animal swings hand over hand from branch to branch.
- Mating system in which a male and female mate exclusively with each other. The pair bond may last for one season or may be life-long.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (May, 2006)
- Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, London.
CITES (September, 2002)
Gibbon Research Lab (September, 2002)
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
- Ankel-Simons, F. (2000) Primate Anatomy: An Introduction. Academic Press, San Diego.
- Chivers, D.J. (2005) Pers. comm.
- Geissmann, T. (1997) New sounds from the crested gibbons (Hylobates concolor group): First results of a systematic revision. In: Zissler, D. (Ed) Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft: Kurzpublikationen – Short Communications. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart.
- Geissmann, T. (1990) Systematics of crested gibbons (Hylobates concolor group). Abstracts, International Symposium on Primate Conservation in China. Kunming Institute of Zoology, Kunming.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Black-crested gibbon biology
Gibbons are forest dwellers and are well known for their habit of swinging between the branches of the rainforest on their long arms, a method of locomotion known as brachiation (6). Gibbons are also adept however, at walking upright, both on the ground and in the trees (2). Black-crested gibbons live in small family groups (1), consisting of a monogamous male and female and their offspring (6). These apes are predominantly arboreal and the group forages and sleeps amongst the trees (2). Led by the female, the breeding pair partakes in vigorous bouts of singing in the morning, which hauntingly echo through the forest. It is believed that these ‘duets’ are essential in pair bond formation and reinforcement, but also serve to advertise the presence of the group within the territory (2). A single young is born every two to three years and the infant is usually weaned once it reaches two years old (2).
Black-crested gibbons feed preferentially on ripe sugar rich fruit such as figs (Ficus species), although they also supplement their diet with leaves and insects (2).Top
Black-crested gibbon range
The black-crested gibbon is found in South East Asia, and the greatly reduced and fragmented range includes Vietnam, China and Laos. Much confusion surrounds the taxonomy of this species but at present four different subspecies are recognised (7). The central Yunnan (Nomascus concolor jingdongensis) and the west Yunnan black-crested gibbon (N. c. furvogaster) are both found within the Yunnan Province of China (8). The Laotian black-crested gibbon (N. c. lu) is found in Laos, the Tonkin black-crested gibbon (N. c. concolor) is found in Northern Vietnam (4).Top
Black-crested gibbon habitat
The black-crested gibbon inhabits evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous forest, in subtropical and montane regions (1).Top
Black-crested gibbon status
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). Four subspecies are currently recognised, all of which are classified as Critically Endangered: the Tonkin black-crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor concolor), West Yunnan black-crested gibbon (N. c. furvogaster), Central Yunnan black-crested gibbon (N. c. jingdongensis), and Laotian black-crested gibbon (N. c. lu) (1).Top
Black-crested gibbon threats
Deforestation has swept across South East Asia at an alarming rate as trees are logged for timber or to make way for agriculture and development. Gibbons throughout the region have undergone dramatic declines due principally to this habitat loss, but also as a result of hunting (4). The fragmentation of their habitat causes groups to become separated from the remaining population (2), and it is estimated that about 75 percent of the black crested gibbon’s original habitat has already been lost (9). The taxonomic confusion surrounding this species makes population estimates particularly difficult but at least two of the subspecies are today at critically low levels (1).Top
Black-crested gibbon conservation
The black-crested gibbon is protected from international trade by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). Fauna and Flora International (FFI) have been studying the species in Northern Vietnam since 1999. They have also been involved in a community awareness programmes in the area and there is pressure to designate the last stronghold of the species (the Che Tao Forest) as a Gibbon Sanctuary (4). In China, the largest population of the Central Yunnan black crested gibbon subspecies occurs within the Wuliang Mountain National Reserve (4). It is vital that any remaining viable populations and habitats are protected or this previously successful ape is in grave danger of disappearing.Top
Find out more
Learn more about gibbons and support their conservation at:
For further information on the black-crested gibbon, visit:
Authenticated by Dr David J. Chivers, University of Cambridge.Top
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.