Curious dusky langur examines its own reflection in Central Catchment Nature Reserve toilet

Just monkeying around.

Zi Shan Kow | September 05, 2022, 05:38 PM

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One nature lover came face to face with an unexpected occupant at a toilet in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on Aug. 30 at 2pm.

Spencer Yau shared his encounter with the endangered dusky langur on the Facebook group Singapore Wildlife Sightings.

He told Mothership he first saw two langurs loafing around in the the trees at the edge of the forest behind the toilet.

One of them descended and decided to enter the female toilet, which was empty. It made a quick visit to the male toilet before circling back.

"It sat in the sink and looked at the mirror, then started licking its reflection," said Yau.

In a video taken by Yau, the langur's eyes wandered curiously around the toilet before it leaned into the mirror to get a better view.

Video courtesy of Spencer Yau.

Langur was relaxed and bored

He described the primate as being "very relaxed" and looking "really bored", not at all bothered by him and his friend's presence.

He filmed it in the toilet for about five minutes before leaving for lunch.

Video courtesy of Spencer Yau.

Yau said he was elated to have encountered Singapore's dusky langurs. Though he has seen them in Malaysia, it was not at such close proximity.

"Initially the moment looked really cute and funny," recounted Yau.

However, as he reflected about how these two male langurs are likely the only members of their species in Singapore, he said "it feels downright sad".

Watching the langur lick its reflection, he surmised that the two individuals might be very lonely and craving companionship.

Dusky langurs in Singapore

These quiet and shy monkeys are not native to Singapore, but can be found in Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

It is understood that three individuals had found their way to Singapore from Malaysia sometime in 2019.

In 2020, primate researcher Andie Ang told The Straits Times that one of them has not been seen since Sep. 2019, postulating that it could have died or left the group.

Now, two of them, both males, are sometimes spotted in various parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

If you encounter the langurs, Ang advises members of the public to keep a respectful distance of at least five metres.

Flash photography should be avoided as it may scare them.

As with any wildlife, do not feed them as they would become used to the presence of humans.

Ang said that dusky langurs are inquisitive and intelligent creatures, adding that she has observed individuals of the same species in Malaysia staring at their own reflection in the mirror.

Top images courtesy of Spencer Yau.