Golden snub-nosed monkey

Rhinopithecus roxellana

The golden snub-nosed monkey is a primate species unique to the mountain forests of central and Southwest China. In China, these Old World monkeys go by the Chinese name of Sichuan golden hair monkey or Sichuan snub-nosed monkey. The golden snub-nosed monkey is one of three snub-nose species unique to China and the most widely distributed.

Conservation status conservation_status_image
remain in the world
Endangered for over
Pack range can cover
  • Scientific Name
    Rhinopithecus roxellana
  • Weight
    18 to 36 kilograms (40 to 79 pounds)
  • Size
    About 1 meter in length (30 to 43 inches)
  • Life Span
    10 to 12 years
  • Habitat
    Dense forest to open plains
  • Diet
  • Gestation
    About 70 days
  • Predators
    Humans and occasionally lions


Human habitation has resulted in the distinct creation of three subspecies of the golden snub-nosed monkey. The three subspecies are known as Maupin, Qinling, and Hubei. The subspecies can be primarily distinguished by the length of their tails, but there are also differences in their skeletal and dental features. Much like other primates, adult golden snub-nosed monkeys are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females look different from one another. The neck of adult male golden snub-nosed is covered in long, golden hair, much like a lion's mane. Adult females have shorter hair than males and grow darker in color with age. Male golden snub-nosed have also been observed to have longer canines than females. Golden snub-nosed monkeys are social creatures and prefer to live with one another. They usually live within family social structures made up of one breeding male and a harem of females. There are also all-male units where several non-breeding males live together as bachelors. A family of snub-noses is referred to as a ‘herd’. Herds allow for the snub-noses to practice ‘alloparenting’, which is where many members of the family are involved in child-rearing, rather than just the mother. Protecting the young is important to the group and they are often placed in the middle of the herd. Primates practice extensive parental investment with their young. Baby golden snub-nosed rarely leave their mothers or the other female family members, and females will remain with their herd most of their life.


Golden snub-nosed monkeys live in the temperate, mountain forests within four of China’s 23 provinces. They can be found living at the elevations of 1,500 - 3,400 m above sea level. Snow is a frequent occurrence within these provinces and the golden snub-nosed can withstand colder than average temperatures than any other non-human primates. The home range of the golden snub-nosed changes seasonally and they are largely arboreal, spending nearly 97 percent of their time in the canopy of trees. During the warmer months, their range is larger due to the availability and distribution of food. The golden snub-nosed diet is primarily herbivorous and they depend largely on lichens as their main food source.


With only an estimated 3,000 golden snub-nosed left in the wild, it is now considered the world's most endangered primate species. Due to habitat loss, the golden snub-nosed monkey population has been greatly impacted. The decline in the population can be attributed to the harvest of dead trees from the mountainous forests. Dead trees are more likely to grow more lichen, which is the primary diet of the golden snub-nosed. The harvesting and clearing of dead trees are not the only human impact the monkeys face as illegal hunting is still an issue.

Conservation Effort

To combat the falling population numbers, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has established a number of protected areas that the golden snub-nosed lives within. In hopes to preserve space outside the protected areas, TNC has provided technical and financial support to the communities within these protected areas where the golden snub-nosed monkey live and implemented a variety of renewable energy technologies. These technologies will ensure that humans do not have to harvest firewood and destroy the lichen-rich trees the monkeys feed on. Since 2000, more than 12,000 alternative energy units have been installed in homes and schools in 420 villages.

The Nature Conservancy has also established a community program that provides training and an online sales platform for a wide range of products made by local villagers with eco-friendly themes. The proceeds from these sales go back into supporting the communities so that the locals do not have to rely on chopping down trees and illegally hunting the monkeys to make ends meet.


The population of the golden snub-nosed is some areas have been found to of increased. One area, near the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve, was once home to an estimated 200 – 600 monkeys but has tripled in population to 1,500.

In 2017, the The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was able to plant 50 acres of new forest habitat to ensure the continued growth of golden snub-nosed numbers.

How You Can Help

If you would like to help ensure the increase in the success of the golden snub-nosed monkey and other similar conservation work, you can support The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to create a world where people and nature thrive.



It’s the little things that citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.
— Wangari Maathai

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