Assessed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. The species is found only in west-central China, in montane forests where snow cover can last for up to six months of the year, IUCN says on its profile for the monkey. Although the species is protected in nature reserves, a major threat for its survival is forest loss due to agricultural expansion, especially outside of the protected areas, IUCN says.
Wild golden snub-nosed monkeys spend 97 percent of their time in trees, mainly using the middle and upper strata of the forest, according to the National Primate Research Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Between 10,000 and 20,000 of the monkeys are thought to be left in the wild, accounting for its assessment as an Endangered species.
“Enduring groups, living in territorial bands that can top 400 animals, are being squeezed again by logging, human settlement, and hunters wanting meat, bones (said to have medicinal properties), and luxurious fur,” says National Geographic in an article, The Monkey Who Went Into the Cold (February 2011). “Many have been pushed into high-altitude isolation, where they leap across branches, traverse icy rivers, and weather long winters at nearly 10,000 feet, shielded by that coveted coat.”
The same article addresses the monkey’s peculiar nose, citing Penn State primatologist Nina Jablonski, who suggests the flat muzzle evolved to combat extreme cold, “which would cause frostbite to bare, exposed, fleshy noses.”
More about the golden snub-nosed monkey
National Geographic Magazine: The Monkey Who Went Into the Cold
National Primate Research Center: Golden snub-nosed monkey
Arkive: Golden snub-nosed monkey
Rhinopithecus roxellana (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species)
The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multi-year project to photograph all species in captivity. The Golden snub-nosed monkey is among them. To learn more about the Photo Ark, visit natgeophotoark.org,