Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Agile gibbon

Hylobates agilis, Georges-Frédéric Cuvier, 1821

(In Thai: ชะนีมือดำ)

The agile gibbon (Hylobates agilis), also known as the black-handed gibbon, is an Old World primate in the gibbon family. It is found in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra, Malaysia, and southern Thailand. The species is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction and the pet trade.


The species is generally thought not to have subspecies, but some experts recognise a mountain form and a lowland form.

  • Mountain agile gibbon, Hylobates agilis agilis
  • Lowland agile gibbon, Hylobates agilis unko


The agile gibbon has fur varying in color from black to red-brown. Its brow is white, and the male can be recognized by its white or light-grey cheeks. Additionally, the male is slightly larger than the female. The agile gibbon weighs from 4 to 6 kg with an average of 5 kg, though in captivity it can reach 8 kg. It has a head and body length of 44 – 63.5 cm. Like all gibbons it is tailless.


With its long arms they swing on branches, brachiating at a fast pace. Like all gibbons, it lives in serially monogamous pairs in a strictly enforced territory, which is defended with vigorous visual displays and songs. The diet of the agile gibbon is generally frugivorous but have also been observed eating leaves, flowers, and insects.

Females give birth to a single offspring after seven months' gestation. The young gibbon is weaned at barely 2 years of age. When fully mature, at about 8 years, it leaves its family group in order to look for a mate.

Distribution and habitat

The agile gibbon is found on Sumatra southeast of Lake Toba and the Singkil River, in a small area on the Malay Peninsula, and south Thailand near the Malaysian border. It predominantly lives arboreally in rain forests and rarely comes to the ground.

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Scientific classification

Hylobates agilis

Common names

  • German:
    • Schwarzhandgibbon
    • Un(g)ka
  • Spanish:
    • Gibón ágil
    • Gibón de manos negras
  • French: Gibbon agile
  • Italian: Gibbone agile
  • Dutch: Oenka
  • Russian:
    • Чернорукий гиббон
    • быстрый гиббон
  • Swedish: Svarthandad gibbon
  • Thai: ชะนีมือดำ


  • Hylobates albo nigrescens, Evardus Winandus Adrianus Ludeking (1862)
  • Hylobates albo griseus, Evardus Winandus Adrianus Ludeking (1862)
  • Hylobates unko, René-Primevère Lesson (1829)
  • Hylobates rafflei, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1828)

Conservation status

Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Endangered (IUCN3.1)


No photo for this species yet

Range Map

Distribution map of Agile gibbon, Hylobates agilis in Thailand
  • Bang Lang National Park
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
Range map of Hylobates agilis in Thailand