If the Monkey Temple at Lopburi is on your itinerary, but you are worried about young children, wish a more authentic conservation experience, wish to see genuinely wild monkeys in their habitat not a cage or just wish to go somewhere a little off the beaten track, the Dusky Langur population in Pracheup Kiri Khan certainly provides an alternative worth considering.
Dusky Langur apart from being just about the cutest monkeys in the land is an endangered species, only found in Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar and even there dwindling mainly due to deforestation causing insufficient food stocks. In Thailand they live in only in three conservation areas where the forestation they inhabit so small it often fails to provide sufficient food to support them and outside feeding is often required.
For the visitor there are two very different options to visit the beautiful creatures.
For a full on week long holiday experience the Dusky Langur Conservation Area in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park offers visitors a rare chance to actually be part of a conservation effort, becoming naturalists. Each day the volunteers follow families of Dusky Langur around the park observing their habits and making sure they are finding enough food to sustain themselves and deciding if they need to be fed or not. The project includes all meals, air-conditioned accommodation, volunteer’s evenings and weekends are free to explore the rustic province. The price to volunteer is around B16,000 per person per week.
Alternatively for the day tripper Wing 53 Airbase has a small forested hill which has been turned into a conservation area where several families of Dusky Langur from the project have been introduced. The airbase is located on the stunning Ao Manao beach, which in World War Two was the scene of the Japanese invasion of Thailand and a famous battle was fought. The beach is just outside Pracheup Town and has tourist resort with accommodation, alternately the untouristy Pracheup Town is only a few kilometres away from where a motor scooter or mountain bike can be hired, or Tuk Tuk taken to get to the airbase. The airbase is free to enter.
Any connoisseur of monkey feeding will know while fun it can sometimes be an unnerving experience. The Macaque the abundant monkey common in Thailand is unpredictable and aggressive, warning signs all around Lopburi don’t stop a number of tourists getting bitten each year. Dusky Langur on the other hand are a very timid species but in the conservation area have become used to people and will approach. These placid creatures are definitely a preferable option for tourists with young children, and unlike with Macaque, Dusky Langur will not fight amongst themselves over food given to even the smallest one or make grabs at tourists, instead if you sit down they will sit beside you calmly waiting until handed something by you or gently take one item from an offered bag.
Baby Dusky Langur more nervously will stay up trees but can be tempted down to cautiously take food. Beside the hill is a stall selling nuts, other fruit can be bought from the town. The Dusky Langur usually stay in trees at the bottom of the hill offering excellent wildlife photo opportunities or play on the airbase telephone lines all day seeming to enjoy human company and only retreat into the forest at night.
Pracheup can be reached from Bangkok by train from Hualampong Station or Bus from the Southern Bus Station in around 4 hours.
Click for vids of me feeding the monkeys.