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The Asia TR section is empty but I'm pretty sure there were several trip reports over the years. Perhaps @Game Warden can arrange for the old TRs to be transferred into this section? 


In the meantime, I'll kick off the newly created section with a brief trip report, that is actually an amalgamation of a series of trips I took over the last two years in the Southeast Asia region, some of which produced precious sightings of primates that are fast decreasing in numbers in the region.

As the various countries embark on developing their economies to attain developed status, the percentage of forested areas has correspondingly dropped. The loss of habitat plus continued hunting pressures (for meat and pet trade) made it more urgent that I got to see these primates when they presented themselves. 


I decided to put the trips together to showcase the primates in Southeast Asia, that not all is lost - at least not for now - and that there are good opportunities to find primates still and there is still some wildlife left in the region!


My trips were very short, varying from 3-5 days and were focussed on birds, so sightings of mammals were opportunistic and limited, except for my most recent trip to Cat Tien National Park where I was keen on seeing the langurs and gibbons. I'll cover that last. 


First up was a trip in September 2022 to Da Nang, a coastal city in central Vietnam. We flew direct from Singapore to Da Nang and stayed in Lang Co, which was an hour's drive from Da Nang but about half an hour's drive to the national park in Bach Ma Mountains - a good location for birding and, if you are lucky, you can chance upon red-shanked douc langurs and various types of macaques. We weren't!
We pinned our hopes on the Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve, a very short drive from the city of Da Nang, where our top target was the red-shanked douc langur. 
Son Tra is one of a handful of places in Laos and Vietnam that you can reliably find the old world primate. The total population of the critically endangered species is estimated at less than 3,000 adults. The douc faces massive dangers - hunting for meat and the pet trade, huge loss of habitat with the accompanying rise in fragmented homes and shortage of suitable food. 
In the early 2000s, a study had alleged that Red-shanked Douc Langurs were extinct in the small forest reserve of the Son Tra Mountain. That study was swiftly followed by plans from the local county government to deforest and redevelop parts of the Son Tra nature reserve into commercial properties, which prompted concerns in the central government of the reliability of the study. The central government then hired independent researchers to check on the study's findings. 
The independent researchers did two studies in 2006 and 2007 and, far from extinction but certainly on the brink of it, found some 200 langurs still in the reserve. The controversy raised publicity about the plight of the douc langurs, and there is now more awareness in Son Tra peninsular of the need to conserve and protect the douc langurs, and there is even a photography club dedicated to the red-shanked douc langur in Da Nang, but hopefully this awareness will translate into more activism against any developments that will further threaten the primate. 

Known as the queen of primates, this douc langur is certainly one of the most beautiful primates.  I was hopping with joy and high-fiving H and our guide Minh at our first sighting after four hours of searching for the primate. I'm still convinced this is the most beautiful primate in the world. 


A young adult male came out to check us out, sitting for quite a while observing us. 



A family of four was resting at noon - an adult with a young one



a juvenile snarled as the other parent swung towards it





An older male adult showing his white hand sleeves and white bum




A long video of the family of four



Edited by Kitsafari
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Another stunning primate we saw in the Son Tra Mountain was the Assamese or Assam Macaque. This species is split into the western and the eastern Assam Macaque, separated by the Brahmaputra River in India. The primates in Vietnam are the eastern sub-species which has a slightly shorter tail than its western siblings. These macaques are different from the Stump-tailed Macaques which have red faces. 
Assam Macaques are on the IUCN Redlist's Near Threatened list, with the population in Laos and Vietnam estimated to have plunged 30% over 30 years to 2008 so the drop will be far sharper now. Hunting pressures on the primate - for food and to make glue and a medicinal balm - are intense in Vietnam , making the primate very scarce in its forests. 


SontraDSC05218-Edit-3.JPG.8ecb49156ef76dc1160c3337624c4e69.JPG SontraDSC05222-Edit-3-Assamesemacaque.JPG.e6b59ba7955b65b0d8dc05248e7cc09d.JPG SontraDSC05254-Edit-2-Assamesemacaque.JPG.f55147811573764f5a108f9ae40b02db.JPG SontraDSC05268-Edit-2.JPG.9dae702b82b7830931535e337dff4f8d.JPG


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In November last year, we did a birding weekend tour of Frasers Hill in Malaysia. Our second trip to the location and this time, we managed to see the Southern Pig-tailed Macaque, the white-thighed Surili, long-tailed Macaques and the Dusky Langurs.  I was disappointed though that we didn't get to see the Siamang, which is the largest species of gibbons.

The Southern pig-tailed macaque is fairly common in Malaysia although the worldwide population is thought to have been halved over the last three generation, and the balance is expected to be halved again if the current trends of hunting and habitat loss continue. This decrease has put the species on the Endangered list. The range of this macaque species runs from Thailand down to Indonesia and Borneo. It's separated from the Northern Pig-tailed Macaque, which is on the vulnerable list and is found from Bangladesh down to Indochina.

This is a beefy primate, with males as heavy as 12kg. Its distinctive feature is its pig-like tail - a curly thin and fairly short tail.  Unfortunately, in Frasers Hill, the monkeys are very used to visitors throwing them human food and you'll find them often along the roads waiting to be fed.




I found one young macaque feeding while climbing a tree. The loud background noise is that of a fast-running stream. The video shows its pig tail as it climbed through an open spot. 




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Also used to human feeding at Frasers Hill were the White-thighed Surili, also known as Pale-thighed Langurs. I was very keen to find the surili - it would be my first such sighting. We did see a couple of them deep in the forest, but we also watched a group descending into the food court where the stallholders would sometimes give them bread and other human food. 

On the Near Threatened list and endemic to the Southeast Asian region, the surili is found only in peninsular Malaysia and parts of eastern Sumatra, where expanding oil palm plantations threaten their homes in primary and secondary forests. The old world primate is arboreal and characterised by the white patches on the outside of their legs and its white beard. the surili lives in small groups of males and/or females. The species used to be classified as a sub-species of the Black-crested Sumatran Langur and is now considered to have four sub-species, one of which is the Malaysian white-thighed Surili, seen as the nominate sub-species. 







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The Long-tailed Macaques were out early in Frasers Hill having their breakfast in the tall tree. We could barely make them out in the thick fog engulfing the highland retreat. 

Easily seen in Singapore and Malaysia, one would have not thought the Long-tailed Macaque species is in trouble with the population down some 40% over the past 40years. It is on the Endangered status with declines seen in all the areas it is found - Indochina down to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. IUCN estimated the population was halved in Cambodia over the  last 10 years. The macaques are often perceived as aggressive monkeys, ready to snatch food from humans but these are usually the ones that are fed by humans and are part of learned behaviours. In Singapore where the forests are quickly dwindling, the macaques have even learned to scale high-rise buildings. The animals often lose out in our highly urbanised country. 





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@Kitsafaria great idea for a trip report combining your short trips. Excellent photos of very interesting primates 

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Thank you @TonyQ - it just didn't make sense to do individual TRs that will feature mostly birds that I will have in my BY anyway. i thought I had finally sufficient sightings of mammals that I could do a collection of instead. I myself was surprised and very pleased to be able to see the primates and other mammals or wildlife that popped up during the trips. 


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Fraser's Hill is a highland resort located in the state of Pahang and about a two-hour drive from the heart of Kuala Lumpur city. We had a birding guide who picked us up from our hotel very early in the morning and once we hit the foothills of Fraser's Hill, we started birding. The primates are however better seen up on the highland, often earlier in the morning when they are feeding in the coolness of the days. 

The last primate we saw in the November trip was the Dusky Langurs, also known as dusky leaf monkey or spectacled langur. On the endangered list, the species is seeing declining population due mainly to habitat loss to palm oil plantations and human settlement, with poaching and hunting as well as road construction and roadkill adding to the pressures on the species. 
This is a beautiful leaf monkey with a very distinctive broad band of white fur around its eyes and very shy of humans. The species feeds in small groups with babies in an orange coat that changes into shades of brown black and grey as they become an adult. Its range is from Myanmar through to Thailand and Malaysia with a very small population in Singapore, where the species is in fact not native. It's speculated that the current population in Singapore had actually swam across from Johore (Malaysia) where there has been widespread destruction of forests for property and economic developments. We first saw this species in Langkawi where we had fantastic and frequent sightings at the Andaman Resort but the resort burnt down in January 2021. 









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Two squirrel species we saw while watching birds were the Red Cheeked Squirrel (LC) and the Grey-bellied Squirrel, both of least concern in the IUCN list. The red-cheeked squirrel is found in foothills and lower montane forests and is both arboreal and terrestial in nature. The Grey-bellied squirrel occurs from southern Myanmark down through Thailand to Peninsular Malaysia but doesn't occur in Singapore. 

Red-cheeked squirrel 





Grey-bellied squirrel 




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Technically, Hong Kong is not part of Southeast Asia but it was a rare sighting of a Rhesus Macaque for me so I'll squeeze this in. I was there at end-October this year and was on a one-day birding tour of HK's forest birds in its northern territories where there are more forested areas. The bulky male was on its own, possibly having been forced out of a group, and was hanging around the main road. 
The rhesus monkey's range spans from the Indian sub-continent across northern Indochina into China, and is thought to have the widest geographic range of all non-human primates. With a characteristic red face and bottom, the macaque is a social animal, seen usually in troops of around 20 to as  many as 200 individuals. 





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In October this year, we flew to Bali, the globally famous beach resort island of Indonesia. We hadn't been back to Bali in the past 10 years, and during the last visit, we did a wonderful bird walk in the rice fields of the charming arts and crafts centre of Ubud. 10 years on, the quiet tranquil rice fields have turned into commercial ventures complete with man made spots for instagrammable moments and the selfies and wefies that seemed to have seeped deep into the resort island. The northern part of Bali remains quieter and is still not a strong draw for the tourist crowds unless the visitors are into birding like we were. We stayed close to Taman Nasional Bali Barat or West Bali National Park where we were there to find the critically endangered Bali Myna in the wild. Although the park is also known to have barking deer, banteng, wild boar and other mammals, we didn't see them while driving around for birds. 


An unexpected bonus amid the birding was two sightings of the Ebony Leaf Monkeys, one of which was a poor view with the monkeys quickly disappearing from view. Also known as the Spangled Ebony Langur in the IUCN list, as well as East Javan Langur or Javan Lutung in the local circles, the primate is on the vulnerable status. It is found only in the Javan region, including Bali, but extant in the Mataram island, The Latin word auratus in its scientific name (Trachypithecus auratus) means "golden", and refers to a less common color variant. Both males and females are similar, attired in glossy black although the females show pale and yellowish patches around the groin area. Juveniles are in orange attire. The langur is a social animal that is diurnal and arboreal. 






and a short clip of this youngster enjoying its meal.


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We also saw the Black Giant Squirrel or Malayan Giant Squirrel in Bali. We had a good sighting of this species in Langkawi, Malaysia, a few years ago, but we were still surprised anew in Bali by its size - an adult can weigh up to 1.25kg with an up to 15-inch body and a tail as long as 17 inch. 
The species in Sumatra, Bali and Java however looks like a pale form from that in Malaysia. Unlike the latter which has black upperparts from the head to the tail, the pale morph are lighter on the back upperparts and tails but darker than the underparts.  The species is distributed in forests from northern Indian sub-continent across southern China and Indochina down to southeast Asia into western Indonesia. Hunting and habitat loss has hit its total population, landing this species on the near threatened list. IUCN reckoned that the species is becoming rare in Java and still declining, with the squirrel now seen mainly in remaining but declining patches of forests. 




just to show the difference, below is the Black Giant Squirrel seen in Malaysia



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My most recent trip was to Vietnam where I visited the Tan Phu forest and the Cat Tien National Park just over a week ago. Mammals in Vietnam face intense hunting and poaching for meat and supposedly medicinal uses has led to sharp declines in mammals. Unfortunately the local guides confirm that there is still intense pressure especially on macaques. At one spot in the Tan Phu forest, my guide said the area where we were was left with only 2 long-tailed macaques who were terrified of humans. The rest of the group were captured and eaten, with their bones boiled into some paste. He wanted to go into detail how the monkeys were placed to be killed at the dining table for human consumption, but I stopped him there. 
Fortunately, in the Cat Tien National Park, protection of wildlife is stronger and the sightings of certain primates are reasonably still good. In addition to two gibbon species, long-tailed or crab-eating macaques and two leaf monkey species, other mammals that have been seen by visitors at large include Asian elephants, pygmy slow loris, sambar deer, gaur and muntjac and sun bears, if you are very very lucky. Harvesting sun bears for their bile in bear farms is still a very wide practice in the country. We didn't see the elephants as they were apparently at the other end of the park and beyond the fenced areas. we also didn't see any loris during the night walks and drive. 
Cat Tien National Park organises a nightly safari drive that starts between 5.45pm and 6.15pm that runs along a straight road to the grasslands and then back. We took one of the drives and a lot of visitors were also on the drive, that day being a Saturday which is popular with the local population. We saw Gaurs (a vulnerable species which occasionally emerge during the day but not when I was there), Sambar (a Vulnerable species) and lots of Southern Red muntjacs (least concern). The spotlighting was doleful so I couldn't get any good shots. 










Southern Red Muntjac


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In the Tan Phu forest, while waiting for the birds to appear, Indochinese Ground Squirrels were not shy about helping themselves to the cornmeal while a common treeshrew emerged once to forage. A night stay revealed a White-tailed Giant Rat. all three are of Least Concern in the IUCN list. 

Common Treeshrew



feeding with a grey-headed woodpecker



Ground Squirrel





The rat not liking the spotlight on it



I had a very quick shot of a northern Smooth-tailed treeshrew that made a lightning visit only once before vanishing into the bushes



Edited by Kitsafari
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My birding guide goes to the park regularly so he knew where the resident primates could be found. I was extremely happy on the first arrival to the park (you have to take the ferry to cross a small river if you are staying on the east side of the River Dong Nai) when I spotted some gibbons brachiating in the trees behind the visitor centre. my guide Tim knew where they would end up - in trees very close to a public hall at the HQ. 

There is supposed to be a large cage located at HQ/Visitor centre the where rescued Buff-cheeked Gibbons were placed before being released. I didn't want to see it but I had read a trip report somewhere a few years back that related how a male gibbon had picked out a female gibbon in the cage and they paired up immediately once she was released. The family apparently hangs around the HQ regularly, so this could be the family. 


Gibbons pair up for life. and their dawn calls are one of the most beautiful, haunting and extraordinary songs I've ever heard. One of my ever favourite moments when I woke up to listen to the gibbon calls in Danum Valley. Those calls made me stop whatever I was doing and immerse myself in those melancholic calls. I could hear those calls  staying at the other side of Dong Nai River, with some of the calls likely coming from the Dao Tien Primate Rescue Centre which is located on an island in the middle of the Dong Nai River. Apparently you can visit the centre if you like and can arrange that at the Cat Tien Park visitor centre. 

The family I saw was one of 6 - two adults, two immatures and two juveniles. My heart was pumping with excitement and such thrill to see them so close, that I didn't realise at that time how they were smaller than I had expected them to be. Also known as the Yellow-cheeked crested Gibbon which IUCN states as Red-cheeked Gibbon or Nomascus gabriellae, the species is on the endangered list due to habitat loss and poaching. Now found only in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the population in Cat Tien NP was estimated at around 500 by 2011.   The infants are born pale buff then turn to black as they grow older. By adulthood, the males retain the black coat with buff cheeks while the females turn back to pale buff and develop a distinctive black strip on their crowns. 


I have so many photos of this stunning species! the family really posed us and entertained us with their play. They seemed so habituated to humans. 


Adult male












Adult female and child











Juvenile male



Juvenile female playing with the adult male while two female adults were grooming below them









Managed to video play between the two young female and male adults in the first clip, and then the female young adult playing with the older adult male. you can hear gibbons calling in the background.





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Habitat loss and  poaching for meat, folklore remedies and pet trade are also putting heavy pressure on the Critically Endangered Black-shanked Douc Langur. This was one of the primates I had wanted most to see (the other being the gibbons). This is together with the red-shanked douc and the grey-shanked douc are the douc langurs found only in eastern Cambodia and southwestern Vietnam. 

Shrinking habitat has led to fragmented forests in Vietnam, leading to very small populations. Cat Tien is estimated to have about 100 of them. The black-shanked has a distinctive blue-grey face with yellow rings around its eyes and ends in a white beard. Its shanks are black as its hands and feet although it wears a white triangular patch on its bum that leads to a long white tail. It has the longest tail among the doucs. Males and females look almost alike although the male has white circules on either side of its rump and spots a blue scrotum. They stay at very high tree levels so the three sightings of them were with an extreme neck-craning stance of me looking straight up at them.  My only regret was that they weren't as close as the gibbons were! still I was very delighted to have views of them. 


This is the final instalment of my short tour of SEAsian mammals. We have just confirmed an April trip to Sabah where top of my list is the pgymy elephant. Of course there should be the sun bears, the orangutans, the proboscis monkeys and hopefully the gibbons as well. I'm not holding out hope for the small cats as there will be only 1 or 2 night outings more for birds. But one never knows. Hopefully, I'll have more to report once we're back.


Thanks everyone for reading this thread! 






you can count by the number of white tails how many of the langurs there were. 



female with baby



A young adult had already made the jump and the female adult carrying the baby was getting ready to jump too.



making the leap while the adult male watched



the curious adult kept looking down at me. standing directly below him provided the only window to seeing its face. 




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Oh I nearly forgot to add one more species - but it is not a mammal. My guide in Tan Phu lives in the forest itself, and his home naturally attracts a lot of wildlife. Dat who used to be a ranger for the Tan Phu forest and for Cat Tien NP found a ruby-eyed green pit viper in his garden and that viper has made its home in one of the dead tree trunks. Dat plans to release the viper into the forest one day, but meanwhile I'm sure the viper is making good kills in the garden! 

The ruby-eyed green pit viper is a new discovery, according to NatGeo. The species has been found in forests near Ho Chi Minh City and across the low hills of southern Vietnam as well as eastern Cambodia's Langbian Plateau. This is a venemous snake whose venom isn't fatal to humans but can make them very sick. The viper was about 1m long and when Dat placed it on a rock, it kept quite still. As it wasn't that big, i mustered the courage to go about 10m away from the snake to get some shots of it. If I am not terrified of snakes, trust me I am, I would have been mesmerised by the jewel shimmering green of its skin and the bright hypnotic ruby eyes. The white edges on its belly at one point even glowed. 







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what a splendid report1 so many wonderful primates and I ,love the snake @Kitsafari

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A fascinating report. Wonderful photos of the Gibbons towards the end, really beautiful. I hope you are successful with the Pygmy Elephants!

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On 11/29/2023 at 9:05 AM, Kitsafari said:

jewel shimmering green of its skin and the bright hypnotic ruby eyes. The white edges on its belly at one point even glowed. 


What a marvelous little snake!

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16 hours ago, TonyQ said:

A fascinating report. Wonderful photos of the Gibbons towards the end, really beautiful. I hope you are successful with the Pygmy Elephants!



Me too! i have to re-read your TR just before we leave to see what else we can get out of the trip. :) 

Edited by Kitsafari
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42 minutes ago, offshorebirder said:


What a marvelous little snake!



It really is. One night on the road, on the way back to the hotel from a restaurant in the forest, a large green snake - at least 3m long - slithered across the road but stopped  as the headlights hit it . It raised its head up about 1m to look around the area illuminated by the headlights and I really regretted not asking my guide to take a videoclip of it. But I was too terrified to get out of the car to film it especially after it showed it could almost "stand up". It eventually moved into the grass and into the darkness.


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On 11/30/2023 at 7:49 PM, Zim Girl said:

Lovely snake @Kitsafari.  I wish I had it living in my back garden.


@Zim Girl

you're a brave one! I would flee from my home if it was in my garden. :lol:

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