National Geographic Photo Ark Spotlight: Golden Snub-nosed Monkey

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.

Click the logo above to find out more about the National Geographic Photo Ark project, and what you can do to help lynxes and other species survive for future generations.
Click the logo above to find out more about the National Geographic Photo Ark project, and what you can do to help species survive for future generations.

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,

Follow the Photo Ark photographer Joel Sartore and the National Geographic Photo Ark on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, and add your voice using #SaveTogether.

Human Journey

Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn