The Nilgiri langur (Semnopithecus johnii) and the common langur (Semnopithecus priam thersites) are colobines found in the southern tip of the Western Ghats. Changes in land use patterns and the loss of habitat due to the ever-increasing demand for land to meet anthropogenic requirements are major causes for these and other primates being critically threatened today. Data regarding patterns of parasitic infections in langur populations in the wild are a critical indicator of the population health and will mark a beginning towards assessment and management of disease risks. This is especially important for populations that are in proximity to human settlements as this can either have a direct effect through contagion from humans and indirectly due to increased stress.
This project aims to fill in the paucity of information on gastrointestinal parasites of langurs in the wild and help in our understanding of the influence of human settlements within Protected Areas on the parasitic loads of these primates. Permission for field work from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department was granted in May 2009 and field work in the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve was initiated from September2009. Several groups of Hanuman langur and Nilgiri langur have been identified at differing proximity to settlements within this PA and faecal samples from individuals from these groups are being collected in 10% formalin for microscopic analysis. Laboratory work has been initiated. Three student volunteers were trained in the process of intestinal parasite laboratory analysis.