, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 1-18

Population studies of Malaysian primates

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Abstract

Systematic field studies on the abundance of primates were made in five different types of forest in West Malaysia in 1970. Primate groups of 7 species were seen on 97 occasions during 527 hours of field observations. Secondary forests had the greatest primate density of any of the natural forest habitats surveyed. Estimated primate group densities varied from less than 4 groups per square mile to 40, with an average of 7.2 groups per square mile. The most abundant species was the banded leaf monkey (Presbytis melalophus) with 2.95 groups per square mile, followed by the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) with 1.54 groups. Primary forests had a lower density which varied from less than 2 groups per square mile to 15, and averaged 5.9.P. melalophus was again the most abundant species with an average of 2.22 groups per square mile, followed by gibbons (Hylobates lar) and siamangs (H. syndactylus) each with 1.11.M. fascicularis averaged only 0.37 groups per square mile in primary forests. Primates were unexpectedly rare in mangrove forests and rubber plantations. Twenty-four primate groups were found in urban forests and parks. Twenty of these groups wereM. fascicularis, 3 were silver leaf monkeys (P. cristatus) and 1 was the dusky leaf monkey (P. obscurus). In urban areas,M. fascicularis groups varied from 7 to 44 individuals per group, with an average of 24. A great need exists for increased scientific and conservation attention for the primate populations of Malaysia.

Contribution from the U.S.A. Medical Research Unit, Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.