Rhinopithecus - Snub-Nosed Monkeys
Snub-nosed monkeys or snub-nosed langurs (genus Rhinopithecus) are enigmatic and threatened primates belonging to the subfamily Colobinae (leaf monkeys, Schlank- und Stummelaffen). They constitute together with proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), pig-tailed langurs (Simias concolor) and the doucs (genus Pygathrix) the “odd-nosed colobines”. In the 1970s, these primates were labelled the “forgotten leaf-eaters" due to the lack of in depth knowledge at this time. The distribution of the snub-nosed monkeys is restricted to parts of China and Vietnam, and they live mainly or exclusively north of the tropical areas bounded by the Tropics of Cancer at 23.5° geographical latitude. This distributional peculiarity is shared by only a handful of other primate species.
The term “snub-nosed” relates to the delicate, upturned nose, of which the tip reaches toward the forehead. Individuals of the four species are relatively large as compared to other colobines, and show striking sexual dimorphism in both size and coloration. The taxonomy of the snub-nosed monkeys has generated considerable debate. Groves (1989) placed Rhinopithecus within Pygathrix as a subgenus, but Jablonski and Peng (1993) argued - using morphological data - strongly for its recognition as a full genus. The genus is now comprised of four distinct allopatric species: Rhinopithecus avunculus, R. brelichi, R. bieti and R. roxellana.
The English names of the different species are either based on parts of their distribution (names of Chinese provinces) or parts of their fur coloration. Sometimes, the whole genus Rhinopithecus is referred to as “golden monkeys” or “golden-haired monkeys”, of which the latter term corresponds to the English translation of the Chinese word “jinsihou”.
In recent years knowledge about the behavior and ecology of the snub-nosed monkeys has grown, but many questions – particularly regarding social behavior – remain unresolved. All snub-nosed monkeys are highly endangered due to the fast growing human population, deteriorating environments and accelerated deforestation, and hunting monkeys for food, medicinal and economic purposes.
The Nature Conservancy - Yunnan Golden Monkey Conservation Program
Dian Jin Si Hou
Primate Conservation Inc.
Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS
Beijing Institute of Zoology, CAS
The San Diego Zoo's Conservation and Research for Endangered Species Projects
China Exploration and Research Society
Anthropological Institute, University of Zürich
Jane Goodall Institute Switzerland
Gibbon Conservation Alliance
Acadia University, Canada
The University of Wisconsin - Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in Southwest China
Endangered Primate Rescue Center
Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge
Shanghai Wild Animal Park