The Red-shanked douc is a species of Old World monkey. They are the most colorful monkeys among all species of primates. They are considered “Queen of primates” thanks to their distinctive and unique appearance. Their forearms are white, upper legs black to grey and the lower legs are deep red while hands and feet are black. The monkey’s yellow-orange face and ears are powdered with theatrical makeup, and the eyelids are dusted with a powder-blue eyeshadow. There is a slight difference in rump markings between genders: the male has round white spots above the triangle of white on its rump, while the female does not. Shortly, the douc’s fur is a harmonious combination of the 5 colors: black, grey, white, brown-red and orange. Due to this fact, the species is also called the five-color douc. A baby douc has yellow-brown fur with black face.
Red-shanked doucs are found in southeast Asia. They are native to Indochina; Vietnam, Southern Laos and possibly Northeastern Cambodia. These monkeys live in a variety of habitats: from lowland to mountainous terrain, semi-deciduous, primary and secondary rainforests, in the mid to upper levels of the canopy.
Red-shanked doucs are arboreal and diurnal monkeys that eat and sleep in the trees of the forest. They occasionally get on the ground to drink water or eat dirt that contains minerals. Like all monkeys, they are social animals that live in groups of 4-15, but may also agthr in groups of up to 50. A group usually consists of one or more males and approximately two females per male. Both males and females have their own hierarchies and males are dominant to females. Both males and females will eventually leave the group they were born into. When on the move, the group is led by adult males, with juvenile males bringing up the rear and the females and infants staying safe in the middle. These monkeys prefer moving high up in the canopy and are very agile. They frequently make breath-taking leaps of up to 6 meters (20 feet). When the group is untroubled, Red-shanked doucs move noisily from branch to branch through the forest, displaying their remarkable sense of balance. But when the group is disturbed, it can flee soundlessly through the trees, away from danger. If it is startled, it may give loud barks and rush around the trees slapping branches with their hands and feet. In contrast to their noisy travel, doucs spend most of their time quietly eating, digesting their bulky food, dozing and grooming each other's fur.
Red-shanked doucs are polygynous which means that males mate with more than one female during the breeding season. Before mating, both genders attract each other with signals that inckude the jaw forward, eyebrows raised and then lowered, and a head-shake. The female makes the first move, lying face-down on a branch, eyeing her chosen mate by looking over her shoulder. The male returns with a stare. Mating takes place from August to December. The pregnancy lasts between 165-190 days, resulting in the birth of a single baby just before fruiting season of some favorite foods. Twins are very rare. The young are born with their eyes wide open and they cling to their mothers instinctively. In captivity, other group members may look after an infant, and other females may even suckle it. In one study, an orphaned infant was fed by two females in the group and also cared for by a male. Females in this species reach reproductive maturity at about 4 years, while the males become mature at 4-5 years.
The major threat to this species at presnt is hunting, most often for subsistence use and traditional medicine. Local people often hunt Red-shanked doucs for food, pets or making glue. For the population in Son Tra (Vietnam), habitat loss due to development plan poses the biggest risk to them.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Red-shanked douc total population size. According to Wikipedia in Son Tra (Vietnam), the douc population is around 1300 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
As herbivorous animals, Red-shanked doucs serve as plant dispersers of their range.