Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii)

Also known as: black leaf monkey, hooded leaf monkey, Indian hooded leaf monkey, John’s langur, Nilgiri black langur, Nilgiri leaf monkey
Synonyms: Presbytis johni, Semnopithecus johnii
French: Langur Du Nilgiri, Semnopithèque Des Nilgiris
Spanish: Langur De Nilgiri
GenusTrachypithecus (1)
SizeHead-body length: 49 – 71 cm (2)
Tail length: 69 – 97 cm (2)
Weight at birth: 0.5 kg (3)
Weight9.8 – 13.6 kg (2)

The Nilgiri langur is classified as Vulnerable (VU C2a(i)) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1) and is listed on Appendix II of CITES (4). It is also listed under schedule I, part I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (1).

The Nilgiri langur has a glossy, dark brown coat and long, thick golden to brown fur on the head. The rump and the start of the tail are highlighted with white, and females have white areas on their inner thighs, obvious from a week old. At birth, the young have pale pink skin and dark red fur, with full adult colouration being attained at three months (3).

Found in the Western Ghats of India (3).

Inhabits tropical wet evergreen, semi-evergreen and riparian forests as well as teak plantations, at altitudes of between 300 – 2,000 m above sea level (1).

Very little is known of the biology of the Nilgiri langur. Young are born mainly in May and November, after the monsoons that bring fresh leaf growth. This langur species form groups with one male and up to 23 females and young, who move through the forest eating the leaves of 102 plant species as well as some of their fruit, flowers and seeds. As sub-adults, males begin to fight for access to females, but are then displaced by the dominant male and forced to migrate in all-male groups (3).

In the past, the Nilgiri langur has suffered from habitat loss and degradation as a result of agricultural expansion, mining operations, and dam construction. Currently, habitat loss due to increasing human settlements and deliberate fires, as well as hunting, road kills, and local trade for food, pets and traditional medicine, are the major threats (1). Locally it is believed that certain parts of the Nilgiri langur’s body have medicinal value. The flesh and glands are used to treat asthma and the blood is drunk fresh as a rejuvenator. The replacement of native tree species with introduced, fast-growing fuel wood is also detrimental to the species (3).

The Nilgiri langur is found in many wildlife sanctuaries in southwestern India, and international trade in this species is limited (1). The Wildlife Institute of India suggests that it should be obligatory for the government to restore degraded forests, including the cardamom plantations that have been abandoned following the expiration of the lease. Regular patrolling of forest is necessary to enforce protection of the Nilgiri langur (3).

For further information on this species, see:

For more information on conservation in the Western Ghats, see:

Authenticated (12/03/05) by Matt Richardson.

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2004)
  2. MacDonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Wildlife Institute of India (September, 2010)
  4. CITES (December, 2004)