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7 Fun Facts on the Gray Langur - India's Most Widespread Monkey
1. The Hanuman Monkey – The Gray Langur’s traditional name in India is the Hanuman Monkey. This is because the Gray Langur monkey is mostly grey in color, except for both its black hands and black face. This relates back to Hanuman, a famous monkey god who fought to save the wife of the legendary Indian King Rama. The Langur monkeys came to Hanuman’s aid when he became trapped in a fire and in the process burnt their hands and faces. For this reason, the Gray Langur is sacred in Hindu religion and is not hunted in India.
2. Seven Subspecies: The Gray Langur monkey is the most common monkey found in South Asia with approximately 300,000 existing today. The seven subspecies of this monkey are the Nepal, Kashmir, Tarai, Northern Plains, Black-footed, Southern Plains and the Tufted Gray Langur.
3. They Self-Medicate: The Gray Langur monkey eats a diet that depends highly on what is currently in season and abundant. It maintains a steady diet of fruit, flowers and leaves, preferring mature leaves over young leaves. Insects and everygreen leaves are eaten when others foods are less abundant and bark is only eaten when there is no other food available. The Gray Langur’s diet is high in strychnine, which can be harmful to animals. Therefor it will commonly ingest the gum of the Sterculia Urens to counteract the effects. This gum is marketed in England as a prescription laxative known as Normacol.
4. They Sleep in Trees: Although the Gray Langur spends more time than any other monkey species on the ground, it will sleep in trees at night to avoid predators.
5. Leadership is Short-Term: Gray Langur monkeys live in groups consisting of 11 to 60 monkeys. The group is dominated by a high-ranking male, who usually lasts in the leadership position for an average of 18 months. Often, adolescent males are expelled from the group at an early age and go on to form bachelor groups. These groups will then attack an existing leader in order to over take his group. All of the children of the dominated leader will then be killed.
6. Only the Powerful Can Mate: In each group, only the male monkeys that have high-rankings are allowed to mate with any female in the group. The males with lower rankings must sneak their way past a high-ranking male in order to get a chance at copulation with a female. Tough!
7. A Chital Deer’s Best Friend: The Northern Plain Gray Langur monkey's superior eyesight and ability to sit atop high trees allows it to spot predators easily. Researchers have noted that this species will often sit next to herds of the Chital Deer and notify them when a predator is approaching. Additionally, the Langur will often drop fruit from tall trees, which the Chital Deer will then feed on. In return, the Chital Deer’s excellent sense of smell allows it to detect predators early on and warn the Langur that something may be approaching.