Grizzled leaf monkey (Presbytis comata)

Close-up of grizzled leaf monkey, captive
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Grizzled leaf monkey fact file

Grizzled leaf monkey description

GenusPresbytis (1)

The grizzled leaf monkey is a small, slender Old World monkey. As its name suggests, its coat is grizzled in colour, being a mix of dark hairs with grey or white, with the exact shade varying between populations (4). The hair on its underparts is typically paler (5), while its head is almost black with longer hair framing a broad grey face (4). Due to differences in appearance, it was once thought that the grizzled leaf monkey consisted of two different species: Presbytis comate in western Java and Presbytis fredericae in central Java. However, it is now clear that the species occurs as a chain of intermediate populations across its range, showing a gradual shift in coat colour from grey to black (6).

Also known as
Java leaf monkey, Javan grizzled langur, Javan surili.
Presbytis fredericae.
Langur Gris.
Male weight: 6710 g (2)
Female weight: 6680 g (2)

Grizzled leaf monkey biology

The grizzled leaf monkey is a folivorous primate, its diet consisting primarily of leaves, but it will also consume fruits, flowers and seeds (5). Like other Colobine monkeys, also known as ‘the leaf eaters’, it is able to digest large volumes of leaves by having a large, multi-chambered stomach, and a forestomach that houses lots of bacteria. Together, these features assist in the breakdown of cellulose, one of the primary components of plants and a substance that is largely indigestible to many animals. However, the specially adapted gut of the grizzled leaf monkey enables it to obtain energy and nutrients from a cellulose-rich diet (7).

Like all leaf monkeys, the grizzled leaf monkey is a tree-dwelling species that is active during the day (5). Group sizes have been documented to range between 2 and 23 individuals (8) (9), with the grizzled leaf monkey also sometimes forming groups with other species such as the Javan langur (Trachypithecus auratus) (10). There is usually only one male of mating age per group, with other males dispersing from the group they were born in before adolescence (11). Juvenile and infant males are known to often engage in social play, an activity which females rarely partake in (11).


Grizzled leaf monkey range

The grizzled leaf monkey occurs in western and central parts of the Indonesian island of Java (1).


Grizzled leaf monkey habitat

An inhabitant of both primary and secondary forest, the grizzled leaf monkey was once found from sea level up to 2,565 metres, but is now largely restricted to fragments of forest in the mountains (1).


Grizzled leaf monkey status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Grizzled leaf monkey threats

Habitat loss is the main threat to the grizzled leaf monkey, with the clearance of Indonesian rainforests resulting in less than four percent of the grizzled leaf monkey’s natural habitat remaining (12). This, combined with the continuous threat of hunting, has resulted in a 50 percent drop in grizzled leaf monkey numbers in the last decade (12), and it was estimated in 1996 that less than 2,500 mature individuals remain in their natural habitat (1).


Grizzled leaf monkey conservation

Remaining populations of the grizzled leaf monkey occur in a number of protected areas in western Java, including Ujung Kulon National Park, Halimun National Park and Gede-Pangrango National Park, which will hopefully offer some protection from habitat disturbance and hunting (1). It is also listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Colobine monkeys
A group of at least 30 species of monkey which occur in tropical Africa and southern and eastern Asia. One of their most distinctive features is their large, multi-chambered stomach and the presence of a forestomach, which enables them to digest large amounts of plant material.
Primary forest is forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Fleagle, J.G. (1998) Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press, New York.
  3. CITES (November, 2009)
  4. Bennett, A. and Davies, G. (1994) The Ecology of Asian Columbines. In: Davies, A.G. and Oates, J.F. (Eds.) Colobine Monkeys: Their Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  5. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  6. Nijman, V. (1997) Geographic variation in pelage characteristics in Presbytis comata (Desmarest, 1822) (Mammalia: primates, Cercopithecidae). Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde, 62: 257–264.
  7. Davies, A.G. and Oates, J.F. (1994) Colobine Monkeys: Their Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  8. Nijman, V. and van Balen, S.B. (1998) A faunal survey of the Dieng Mountains, central Java, Indonesia: Distribution and conservation of endemic primate taxa. Oryx. 32(2): 145-156.
  9. Melisch, R. and Dirgayusa, I.W.A. (1996) Notes on the grizzled leaf monkey (Presbytis comata) from two nature reserves in west Java, Indonesia. Asian Primates, 6: 5-11.
  10. Nijman, V. (1997) On the occurrence and distribution of Presbytis comata (Desmarest, 1822) (Mammalia: Primates: Cercopithecidae) in Java, Indonesia. Contributions to Zoology, 66(4), 247-256.
  11. Ruhiyat, Y. (1983) Socio-ecological study of Presbytis aygula in west Java. Primates, 24(3): 344-359.
  12. The Primata (November, 2009)

Image credit

Close-up of grizzled leaf monkey, captive  
Close-up of grizzled leaf monkey, captive

© Pierre de Chabannes

Pierre de Chabannes
Le Chesnay


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