Q&A with Stefano Unterthiner: Hanuman langur monkeys

” Hanuman langur monkeys are trained to scare off pesky rhesus monkeys and other wild animals wandering around public places in India. They were even employed by the government during the 2010 Commonwealth Games as critter controllers. As many as 2,100 wild langurs roam the city limits of Jodhpur. Hopefully these beloved creatures do not wear out their welcome.” – in the August 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands now.


Q: Observing monkey’s behaviors can be fun and you must have spent hours with them to photograph… what was some of the most interesting behaviors you observed?

A: Yes, I’ve spent hours with a particular troop of langurs on a rocky plateau surrounding the city on Jodhpur. I’ve been with the group every morning and evening and I started to recognize few individuals, like several big males and females with small babies… But the most interesting behavior to watch and photograph are the fight play of the youngsters… The Hanuman langur is probably one of the most playful species I’ve ever work with: the young (but quite often also the sub-adult) spend most of their time running and jumping around. So funny!

Q:  Since they are used to sharing food etc. with locals, Did they try to steal any of your camera gear?

A: I had to always keep an eye to my backpack: the young monkey, particularly, they enjoy to jump over my backpack (full of lenses…) and the run away. I usually try to push them away, but they like to do it again and again…

Q: Where the monkeys habituated and completely unafraid of you?

A: Most of the individuals are not afraid of humans: this monkey is sacred and fully (almost…) respected by the local people so they were more curious then afraid when I followed them around the plateau for hours… That’s the best about working with them, because they do not care too much about my presence.

To view stunning photographs of these monkeys by Stefano Unterthiner, please visit National Geographic.

About Stefano:

Stefano travels regularly around the world in search of new subject for his picture stories. He specializes in trying to tell an animal’s life story, which brings him close to a particular species for long period. On top of all, there is Stefano strong engagement for wildlife conservation and environmental issues. Stefano regularly works on photographic conservation project: he’s particularly interested in man-nature interaction. In September 2004, Stefano received the “Premio Nazionale di Ecologia Luigiano d’oro”, a recognition awarded every year to Italian personalities distinguished in the preservation of nature. Stefano received this important award for his work on endangered wildlife. In March 2007, Stefano become a member of the iLCP, the International League of Conservation Photographers.