Human Evolution

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 297-308

First online:

Abortions in free ranging Hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus) — a male induced strategy?

  • G. AgoramoorthyAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Jodhpur
  • , S. M. MohnotAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Jodhpur
  • , V. SommerAffiliated withInstitut für Anthropologie der Georg-August-Universität
  • , A. SrivastavaAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Jodhpur

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During a 10-year long term study, 6 eye-witnessed and 1 pressumed cases of abortions occurred in 3 one-male bisexual troops of free ranging langurs (Presbytis entellus) near Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. The age of the unborns varied from 35 to about 200 days. The subsequent birth interval ranged between 7.1–21.1 months. 2 miscarriages occurred during stable periods of residency of a single male. 5 cases occurred prior to or after infanticide in connection with male changes. In one case a female was attacked by the new male before she aborted. In one case a female presumably aborted after attacks on her semiweaned infant. Most of the reproductive losses hence seem to be related to psychical and physical stress exerted by new males on pregnant females. As part of their reproductive strategy, males reduce their waiting time to insemination in this way. Abortions may likewise represent an adaptive reproductive strategy of females, who prefer to abort instead of investing in a foetus which is likely to be killed after birth.

Key words

Presbytis entellus Reproductive strategies Abortion Infanticide