Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Purple-faced leaf monkey (Trachypithecus vetulus)

Bark whoop whoop snort. Bark whoop whoop snort.

Welcome to the Purple-faced leaf monkeys’ great call.

With a great show of bounding through trees and spectacular leaps of up to 50 feet, you can often hear the male monkeys shouting loudly in the morning.

If you are lucky, you will come across a brownish-black face, with a bushy grey beard, peeking through the leaves of a tree. They live in groups of between 3 and 8 in tree tops, and love eating new leaves, fruits and seeds.

Endangered status

The purple-faced leaf monkey is an endangered animal in Sri Lanka - and one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.

The forest areas where monkeys live in Southern Sri Lanka have been cut down over the past 150 years to make room for plantations, farms and villages. The monkeys are also sadly seen as pests, who eat fruit and vegetables from gardens, jump on roofs or pull down cables. But what people don’t realise is because the forests have shrunk, the monkeys don’t have anywhere else to go.

What can you do to help?

1. Spread the word! Many people don’t realise the purple-faced leaf monkey is endangered. By explaining there aren’t many left, and encouraging people to help protect monkeys rather than treat them like a nuisance, you can help prevent further extinctions.

2. Protect habitats. Monkeys rely on tree canopies and fruits to survive. By helping to protect the forests they live in, and planting new trees, you can create safe habitats for the monkey’s to live.

Illustration by Aisa Hewatathirana