The Kalu Wandura is again listed among the World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates

Surendranie Cabral and Rudy Rudran


Southern purple-faced langur

Western purple-faced langur

Northern purple-faced langur

Pic by Rasanayagam Rudran

SPEARS Foundation

Every two years the Primate Specialist Group(PSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes a list of the 25 most endangered primates in the World. Since 2004 the list has regularly included Sri Lanka’s Batahira Kalu Wandura or the Western purple-faced Langur. In December 2017 however, the Highland Bear Monkey, and the Northern and Southern purple-faced langurs were also added to the list. The additions resulted from a recommendation made to IUCN by the PSG, at the August 2016 meeting of the International Primatological Society Congress held in Chicago, USA.

The PSG’s recommendation was based mainly on systematic field surveys conducted to estimate the size of monkey populations and the natural habitats available to them in different parts of Sri Lanka. These surveys also included interviews with local communities to collect information on people’s attitudes towards monkeys, especially with respect to any conflicts they may have had with the animals.

The surveys within the range of the Highland Bear monkey and the Western- and Southern- purple-faced langur were conducted by affiliates of the SPEARS Foundation, a local not for profit organization. Information about the status of the Northern purple-faced langur was obtained mainly from presentations at the Asian Primate Symposium conducted in October 2016 in Colombo.

Protecting all four subspecies from the threat of extinction requires that activities dealing with their conservation be conducted over a much larger area of the island than before. Conservation activities over a larger area will also be beneficial for the protection of the endangered Toque Macaque, the Grey Langur, the nocturnal prosimians, and many other wildlife species. With this objective in mind the SPEARS Foundation collaborated with the Department of Wildlife Conservation to develop an Action Plan that used Sri Lanka’s monkeys as the flagship species to protect many other taxa. The Action Plan was submitted to the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife in May 2016, and several of its elements are now being implemented.


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