Saving endangered Raffles langurs from monsoon drain

Langur Raffles are shy and elusive creatures that are rarely seen – except for the eagle-eyed nature lovers who roam the treetops with binoculars. So it came as a big surprise to 13-year-old Julian Teo when she spotted one from the window of her home in Yew Chu Kang, northeast Singapore, early Friday morning.

A young female langur was seen looking tense at the bottom of a drainage channel that runs between a residential and woodland area in Lintour on July 8, apparently unable to climb the steep drainage walls.

Teo’s mother, Regina, had seen three langurs down the drain the day before—a mother and her offspring. One of the girls was left behind. She was stuck in the drain all night.

“I was worried about how the monkey would get out,” she said. Coconut. “There was nothing that could be used to escape.”

The monkey ignored a rope that Teo had left on the side of the 3-meter-deep bank, so she called the ACRES animal care group.

This was the second time the Teo family had seen tethered langurs at Raffles this year – the rare monkeys they had not seen before in their 16 years of living in the area.

ACRES asked that the exact location where the langurs were seen not be disclosed, to avoid disturbing the monkeys by photographers or poachers.

It is unclear how the langur got stranded in the drain.

ACRES co-CEO Kalay Vanan Balakrishnan said: Coconut Trimming the branches of trees hanging over the canal the day before may have prevented the monkey from climbing out.

“The sun has been very hot and we have been informed that critically endangered primates appear to be moving slower and weakening,” he said. “We had to act quickly.”

Balakrishnan, along with ACRES volunteers Tan Hoi Min and Aaron Heiberger, used a ladder to climb up the canal to chase down the monkey.

Approaching the monkey from different sides of the channel, the team was able to catch it in the net.

The ACRES team works together to rescue the langurs from the canal. Photo: ACRES

The langur was checked for injuries before being released into the woods at the site.

“Once we released her, she took off into the trees and started calling out to others,” Hyberger recalls.

“I was totally amazed [by the langur]Tan said. “She was very vulnerable, but the way her eyes looked was very convincing and familiar. I am glad she came out.”

Only an estimated 70 Raffles Langer remain in Singapore.

Their numbers are thought to have increased from 40 individuals a decade ago, but local primatologist Dr Andy Ang worries that their limited gene pool could hamper their chances of survival.

Ang, president of the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore), is working with environmental groups in Malaysia on a potential plan to introduce langurs from Malaysia into Singapore to relieve genetic bottlenecks.

The langur is transported to the forest for release. Photo: ACRES

Rare monkeys are found only in Singapore and in the south of Peninsular Malaysia.

ACRES was last called around the Raffles Chart Langoer in August 2021. He was found dead, after being hit by a car on Upper Thompson Road.

Read also: Barbed wire catches another flying lemur near the Swiss Embassy in Singapore

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