Sichuan monkey: Subspecies of the Sichuan monkey
Sichuan monkey subspecies, range, appearance, habitat, lifestyle and behavior, nutrition, reproduction. Household items. On ancient Chinese silk prints, world-famous porcelain vases, stylized dragons, fantastic fish, and all kinds of unusual animals and birds, you can often find the image of a monkey with excellent color-gold wool and a blue muzzle. In China, this original creature has been called Sichuan since ancient times, which means “monkey with golden wool” or “golden monkey.”
Discovery history of the Sichuan monkey
For a long time, European connoisseurs of beauty considered the golden blue face depicted on a Chinese vase to be nothing more than a fairy figure of mysterious Chinese mythology, the same as the famous dragons-symbols of the Heavenly Empire. And only in the second half of the 19th century did the enlightened old world learn about the actual existence of this extraordinary creature.
The European discoverer of the famous monkey was the Catholic missionary, Armand David. Still, he was less successful in converting the Chinese to Catholicism than with his zoological discoveries of a previously unknown world.
Further research on the open species of primates was continued by the famous French zoologist Milne-Edwards, who gave him the Latin name by his observations and priorities – Rhinopithecus roxellana – “rhinopithecus,” which means “nose.”
Milne-Edwards was struck not so much by the bright color of the discovered primate as by the unusual upturned nose of the representative of the species found. But the zoologist did not reflect the animal’s chenille and golden fur in his name in any way. And he was right. As it later turned out, three more subspecies of this unusual animal live in the mountains of southwestern China. And only one of them has a gold outfit. But the nose turned out to be equally buttoned up. And this conspiratorial resemblance to the famous enslaved person, and so beloved wife of the Turkish sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent, Ukrainian Roksolana, made it possible to give this breed another name – the roxella.
Subspecies and habitats of the remarkable Sichuan monkey
Currently, zoologists distinguish three subspecies of this cute creature:
- The golden rhinoceros (Rhinopithecus roxellana roxellana). The subspecies are distributed in the mountains of the Chinese province of Sichuan. It is the largest subspecies by population. There are about 10,000 people in total.
- Qinling snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana qinlingensis). The population is up to 4,000 primates. I am settled in Qinling Province (from which the name of the subspecies comes) and in the southern part of Shaanxi Province.
- Hubei snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana hubeiensis). Up to 1000 representatives of the subspecies live in the mountainous region of western Hubei province.
In addition to the already known Chinese species, in 2010, another species of these animals were discovered in northeastern Burma, which zoologists named the Burmese snub-nosed (Rhinopithecus stryker). The population of the new species is from 260 to 330 individuals and lives in the valleys of the Salween and Mekong rivers.
Appearance of rhinopithecus
The monkey, in terms of its external data and anatomical features of the body structure, is quite comparable to the known ape. It is the monkey, dressed only in thick warm fur, which in rhinopithecus Roxellan is also painted bright orange. I must say that the skin color of different subspecies is very different. For example, the recently discovered Burmese breed has an entirely black fur color (only the chin and ears of these animals are white).
The monkey’s fur is so thick and warm that it can easily withstand the low winter temperatures in the mountainous regions of China. Because of this frost resistance, these animals are sometimes even called “snow monkeys.” The growth of primates is 58–76 centimeters (depending on the subspecies). Tail length is 50–72 centimeters. On average, the number of males of this species is between 15-16 kg. Females are more prominent, weighing up to 35 kg.
Rhinopithecus has a round head, large dark expressive eyes, a frame with blue glasses, a blue muzzle, and an upturned nose. It is impossible to confuse this animal with other types of thin-stuffed primates; it is so unusual in appearance.
Withdrawal of Sichuan monkey farms
Chinese snub-nosed primates of all subspecies live mainly in the subtropical forests of mountainous regions in southern and central China. Small groups of these animals are also found in the forests of North Vietnam and India.
During the warm season, herds migrate and rise higher – up to 3500 meters above sea level. In winter, they go down into the warmer lower forests at the foot of the mountains.
The largest population of rhinopithecus lives in the Wolun Nature Reserve in the Chinese province of Sichuan.
The lifestyle and behavior typical of a snub-nosed monkey
Roxellanic rhinopithecus are social animals that prefer to live in large groups. Moreover, the number of individuals in these monkey groups can vary greatly. The maximum number of such a community, officially recorded by scientists, was about 600 animals. But in the spring, animals divide into smaller units-families of 40-60 individuals, and sometimes even less.
A typical rhinopithecus family consists of a dominant male, five to six adult females, and their young of all generations, which add up to the same 40-60 individuals. The habitat of one such family is from 15 to 50 square meters. Km, depending on the terrain and availability of food.
These primates spend almost all their time in the trees, only coming down to the ground to get exceptional food or settle relationships within the family and between the monkey clans.
Serious conflicts rarely occur in the environment of these animals. Usually, territorial or other disputes are limited to mutual threatening postures and loud shouting. When real danger appears, the monkeys immediately return to the trees.
Even though “snub-nose” prefers the upper part of the forest for their existence and do not like to travel on land, as it turned out recently, they are not afraid of water and can swim well. Primates communicate and manage their social hierarchy through specific body postures, gestures, grooming each other’s hair, vocalizations, and loud cries.
These fantastic animals’ lifestyles have not yet been thoroughly studied. Also, their actual life expectancy has not been accurately established. Zoologists still estimate that it could be around 19–20 years old.
Monkeys are 100% vegetarian, but the diet of these funny-looking animals depends entirely on the season.
In summer, their diet is quite rich – edible fruits of trees, juicy plant leaves, nuts, berries, wild onions, young shoots of bamboo, iris, and saffron bulbs.
During the cold winter, even when they descend into the warmer lower forest, primates are forced to make do with scraps of grass, thin branches, and bark from trees, lichens, and pine needles.
Reproduction of duck Sichuan monkey
The females of this cute creature reach puberty at 4-5 years old—a little later – 7 years.
Even though they can mate throughout the year, the primary mating season usually occurs in late summer and early fall. Women of the same family “harem” are pretty tolerant towards each other, without conflict over the sexual attention of the head of the family.
The female, who can conceive, by her particular behavior, with appropriate posture and giving unmistakable signals to the inverted male nose, calls on the head of the family to mate. However, this does not always work. The male sex, according to the observations of zoologists, responds to her only in half of the cases.
The pregnancy of a female rhinopithecus lasts 7 months. Therefore, usually in the middle of spring, one to two young people are born.
Nurses in Sichuan
The period of milk feeding of young breathing monkeys by the mother lasts for 1 year. After that, children’s diet does not differ from the adult herd’s.
Both parents are busy raising a little “snub-nose.” As needed, other females of the monkey family provide care for the mature young. In particularly harsh winters, the whole family hugs each other tightly and tries primarily to warm the children.
Natural enemies of the Sichuan monkey
Natural enemies in the wild in this species of monkey are few. Not all predators can catch them in mountainous terrain.
In central and southern China, the clouded leopard’s most dangerous enemy is the rhinopithecus, which can track and easily capture even the most agile monkeys in trees.
The small Chinese tiger, which lives in the same woodland as the protozoa, is also dangerous. But the population of the striped predator itself is under threat of extinction (there are about 20 individuals in total) and therefore does not pose a particular danger to the rhinopithecus.
But until recently, the man was the enemy of these magnificent cute animals. For centuries, hardworking Chinese loggers and farmers conquered new lands from the wild forest for their needs, depriving the animals living in the woods of their typical habitat and food, forcing them to leave their normal habitat.
In addition, there was people’s brutal extermination of duck monkeys for their meat. Specific Chinese cuisine only counts all the monkeys in the world from the view of food. Rhinopithecs, in this sense, was not a happy exception. On the contrary, this trophy has always been considered very valuable. The lucky hunter, in addition to tasty meat, also got the magnificent fur of the Roxellan rhinopithecus, which, according to popular beliefs in China, “helps” well against rheumatism.
The Chinese authorities only recently woke up when the monkey in the vicinity approached the danger of extinction. Nowadays, rhinopithecus is widely accepted under state protection, and poaching has been severely punished. The measures taken were successful, and the protozoa slowly began to recover.
Keeping exotic primates at home
The monkey with the fist was listed in the Red Book of the International Union for the Protection of Nature and Resources in 2008.
According to the legislation of the People’s Republic of China, trade in this rare animal is strictly prohibited, which excludes the possibility of legally buying it as a pet.