Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey
The Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) is an Old World monkey endemic to a small area in temperate, mountainous forests of central and Southwest China. Snow occurs frequently within its range, and it can withstand colder average temperatures better than any other non-human primate. Of the three species of snub-nosed monkeys in China, the Golden snub-nosed monkey is the most widely distributed throughout China.
Adult males of this species have large bodies covered with very long, golden guard hairs on their backs and cape area. The crest is medium brown while the back, crown to nape, arms, and outer thighs are deep brown. The brown crest also contains physically upright hairs, whose shape is useful for individual identification. Also, when their mouths are open, researchers can observe long canines. They are usually between 58 cm and 68 cm and weigh about 16.4 kg. In subadult males, the golden guard hairs on the cape are short and sparse, and their median brown crests show microbanding, while also turning from a brown color. Adult females are smaller in size and are about half the size of adult males. The dorsum, crown to nape, cape, arms, and outer thighs are brown to deep brown in some of the older females. However, golden guard hairs are also present on the back and cape area, but they are shorter in length than in the males. The brown crest shows microbanding. Subadult females are smaller than adult females and are about two-thirds the size. The body hair is brown, gradually turning golden but lacking the golden guard hairs. Their median brown crest also shows microbanding. Juveniles are quite small, being less than two-thirds the size of adult females. Their body hair is light brown, gradually turning reddish gold. The rest of their body (dorsum, crown to nape, cape, arms, and outer thighs) hair is brown. Golden hairs in the dorsum or cape area are not recognizable nor is the median brown crest present in subadult to adult females and males.
The natural range of Golden snub-nosed monkeys stretches throughout western-central China, namely, in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Hubei, and Shaanxi. Within this area, Golden snub-nosed monkeys are generally found in high mountainous, deciduous broadleaved, and coniferous forests. During the winter months, they usually move to lower altitudes.
Golden snub-nosed monkeys are highly social. During the summer months, the Golden snub-nosed monkeys gather into large groups of up to 200 individuals. During the winter, these animals typically live in smaller groups of 20-30 monkeys. They can occasionally be observed in huge concentrations of as many as 600 individuals, made up of several groups, which, in turn, are divided into smaller family units that consist of a single dominant male and about 4 females with their offspring. Protecting the young is a group effort. Mothers often have helpers assisting them with the care of their young. When faced with danger from a predator such as the Northern goshawk, the young are placed at the center of the group while the stronger adult males go to the scene of the alarm. The rest of the day, the members of the group remain closer to one another with the young protected at the center. Golden snub-nosed monkeys spend most of their active time in trees, although they are also known to feed on the ground. When threatened, they climb high up into the trees for shelter. Golden snub-nosed monkeys are very vocal primates. Individuals of both sexes use vocalizations such as grunts, sighs, moans, or belches. However, males and females may use different calls. For example, when grooming or feeding, males of this species are known to emit identifying whines - long hesitant cries, responded by female squeaks and squeals. Additionally, females can often be heard giving out chucks - "ee-tcha" calls, associated with stimulation.
As herbivores, the Golden snub-nosed monkeys consume a wide range of food. Their diet generally consists of pine needles and young firs, being supplemented by bamboo shoots, leaves, buds, and fruits.
Golden snub-nosed monkeys are polygynous, which means that one male gets an exclusive right to mating with multiple females. As a general rule, receptive females are the initiators of mating, announcing of their readiness through various signals and postures. They breed year-round with a peak period, occurring in September-November. Most births occur in March-May. The gestation period lasts for 7 months, yielding a single offspring. During the first few days after birth, the baby is nursed and carried in the arms of its mother, constantly remaining with her until about 20 days old. Then the young monkey begins living with the group of its mother and is weaned at 1 year old. Males of this species are ready to mate at 7 years old, whereas females are mature by 4-5 years old.
The Golden snub-nosed monkeys currently suffer from large-scale hunting for food. The pelt of this animal has a commercial value, while some parts of its body are used in traditional medicine. Moreover, whole communities have been known to engage in round-ups of these animals. The Golden snub-nosed monkeys are also poached to be sold to zoos. And finally, these primates are threatened by the loss of their natural range as a result of deforestation and habitat degradation.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population of Golden snub-nosed monkeys is around 15,000 individuals, including estimates of the following subspecies’ populations: Moupin golden snub-nosed monkeys - 10,000 individuals/ 100 groups in Sichun (namely, 6,000 in Mingshan Mountain, 3,500 in Qionglaishan Mountain and 500 - in Daxiangling and Xiaoxianling Mountain), 800 animals/ 8 groups in Gansu and finally, 170-200 monkeys/ 1-2 groups in Shaanxi; Quinling golden snub-nosed monkeys - about 3,800-4,000 individuals/ 39 troops; and Hubei golden snub-nosed Monkeys - around 600-1,000 animals/ 5-6 troops. Overall, the population of Golden snub-nosed monkeys is decreasing today, and the animals are classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.