Francois’s langur (Trachypithecus francoisi)

Francois's langur
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Francois’s langur fact file

Francois’s langur description

GenusTrachypithecus (1)

This langur has a distinctively tall and pointed crest of black hair on its head. The fur is black with white lines from the corners of the mouth, across the cheeks to the ears (5). The inquisitive and endearing face of Francois’ langur has a short muzzle and prominent brow ridges, giving the expression of permanent surprise. Unlike the colobines’ subfamily counterpart, the Cercopithecinae (or ‘typical monkeys’), the leaf-eating monkeys do not have cheek pouches, having instead a bulging stomach where slow-to-digest food accumulates. The buttocks of this tree-dwelling species have thickened pads known as ischial callosities, which are separate in females, but joined up in males (6). In common with many Trachypithecus species, the hands and feet are very slim with short thumbs, and the infants’ fur is pale ginger-orange, with black on the face and extremities (2) (5).

Also known as
François’s langur, François's leaf monkey, Tonkin leaf monkey, white side-burned black langur.
Presbytis francoisi.
Langur De François, Semnopithèque De François.
Langur De Francois.
Male head-body length: 55 – 64 cm (2)
Female head-body length: 47 – 59 cm (2)
Male tail length: 82 – 96 cm (2)
Female tail length: 74 – 89 cm (2)
Male weight: 6.5 – 7.2 kg (2)
Female weight: 5.5 – 5.9 kg (2)
Weight at birth: 0.45 – 0.50 kg (3)

Francois’s langur biology

The highly folivorous diet of Francois’ langur led to the evolution of enlarged salivary glands and a sacculated stomach, which combine to encourage break down and digestion of the tough fibre in leaves, with the help of bacteria living in the upper chamber of the stomach. The lower chamber contains acid as in most mammals, whereas the upper chamber is neutral to create more favourable conditions for the bacteria. Francois’ langur is not restricted to eating leaves; it also consumes fruit, seeds, nectar, shoots and insects, varying its diet with seasonal changes in the abundance of these foods (5). Fleshy immature leaves are preferred (5), preventing the langurs from needing to drink frequently (6). The group moves as it feeds, ending each day in a new place. They settle down to sleep at dusk, preferring large trees in good weather, or limestone caves if it’s cold or raining (8).

An active and noisy species, members of troops indulge in daily mutual grooming in rest periods between feeding (5) (6). The group consists of 4 to 27 (usually around a dozen) individuals and led by the females, who operate a reasonably changeable hierarchy amongst themselves, particularly when it comes to caring for the young (2) (5) (6). There is usually just one adult male in the group who will not participate in caring for the young, except to respond to their distress calls. He will also rarely groom other members of the group, but expects to be groomed himself. Females share responsibility for the infants, who are born singly once a year. They are immediately cared for by ‘allomothers’ as well as their own mother, who will nurse the young monkey for up to two years before weaning. Once weaned, the bond between mother and infant is no different than between any other members of the group. After three or four years juveniles become sexually mature, and will commonly leave to join another group or to form an all-male bachelor group. Francois’ langurs are not fully grown until the age of six or seven (5) (6).


Francois’s langur range

The range of Francois’ langur extends from southern China, west towards the Red River in north-eastern Vietnam. In southern China it is found in the provinces of Chongqing, Guangxi and Guizhou, and the Chongqing Municipality in Sichuan province (1).


Francois’s langur habitat

Living above 230 metres - a higher altitude than most langurs - Francois’ langur inhabits semi-tropical monsoon forest (5) and well-sheltered rocky areas in karst (limestone) hills (2) (8).


Francois’s langur status

Francois’ langur is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Francois’s langur threats

Populations of Francois’ langurs have diminished as a result of major changes in land use. In particular, an increase in agricultural land and logging for both timber and fuel wood has reduced the area available to this species. It has also been extensively hunted for food and for use in traditional “medicinal” preparations. Part of the range of Francois’ langur was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, killing individuals as well as damaging and defoliating their habitat (2) (8).


Francois’s langur conservation

The development and maintenance of reserves is crucial to the survival of this species, and combating hunting through the implementation of a ranger system in areas of sanctuary would also be of value. Educating consumers of traditional “medicines” derived from threatened species would not only impact positively on Francois’ langur but on many other endangered species (8). Francois’ langur is found in several protected areas in both Vietnam and China. Two of these, the Sinh Long-Lung Nhoi Species and Habitat Conservation Area and Nam Xuan Lac Species and Habitat Conservation Area, both in Vietnam, were created especially for the protection of this threatened species (1).

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

Find out more

To learn more about conservation efforts in Vietnam and China see:

For more general information on the Francois’ langur, see:



Authenticated (15/05/06) by Matt Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.



A female providing care to another female's infant. Allomothers may be practicing parenting skills, reciprocating or helping mothers.
Leaf eating.
Having only one type; containing just one representative; as, a monotypic genus, which contains only one species.
Formed with or having sac-like expansions.
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.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2009)
  2. Richardson., M. (2006) Pers. comm.
  3. Human Ageing Genomic Resources – AnAge Database (April, 2006)
  4. CITES (April, 2006)
  5. The Primata (April, 2006)
  6. Honolulu Zoo (April, 2006)
  7. UNEP-WCMC (April, 2006)

Image credit

Francois's langur  
Francois's langur

© Robert Pickett /

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