News and Perspectives


, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 105-110

First online:

Spizaetus hawk-eagles as predators of arboreal colobines

  • S. D. FamAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology and Geography, Oxford Brookes UniversitySoutheast Asian Biodiversity Society, Singapore
  • , V. NijmanAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology and Geography, Oxford Brookes UniversityZoological Museum Amsterdam Email author 

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The predation pressure put on primates by diurnal birds of prey differs greatly between continents. Africa and South America have specialist raptors (e.g. crowned hawk-eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus and harpy eagle Harpia harpyja) whereas in Asia the only such specialist’s (Philippine eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi) distribution is largely allopatric with primates. The almost universal absence of polyspecific groups in Asia (common in Africa and South America) may indicate reduced predation pressure. As such there is almost no information on predation pressures on primates in Asia by raptors. Here we report successful predation of a juvenile banded langur Presbytis femoralis (~2 kg) by a changeable hawk-eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus. The troop that was attacked displayed no signs of being alarmed, and no calls were made before the event. We argue that in insular Southeast Asia, especially, large Spizaetus hawk-eagles (~2 kg) are significant predators of arboreal colobines. Using data on the relative size of sympatric Spizaetus hawk-eagles and colobines we make predictions on where geographically we can expect the highest predation pressure (Thai–Malay Peninsula) and which colobines are least (Nasalis larvatus, Trachypithecus auratus, P. thomasi) and most (P. femoralis, T. cristatus) affected.


Changeable hawk-eagle Langurs Nisaetus Presbytis Predation Socioecology