Endangered Primates Discovered in Remote Vietnam Jungle

The red-shanked douc monkey (shown) is more common than the endangered gray-shanked variety, of which over 100 were recently found in a remote part of Vietnam.© Cologne Zoological Garden

Conservationists from two nonprofits, the World Wide Fund for Nature and Conservation International, announced last week the recent discovery of a population of at least 116 highly endangered gray-shanked douc monkeys in a remote part of Vietnam. Considered one of the world"s most 25 endangered primates, the species was unknown to science until 1997. Biologists believe that fewer than 1,000 gray-shanked doucs exist across five provinces of Vietnam today. Until now, only one other population with more than 100 animals was known.

“It’s very rare to discover a population of this size with such high numbers in a small area, especially for a species on the brink of extinction,” says Barney Long, a conservation biologist with the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Vietnam program.

"To put it into a human perspective, this discovery is like finding a new country with more than one billion people in it," said Ben Rawson, a Conservation International wildlife biologist. "We now have a much greater opportunity to overcome the very serious threats faced by this species and prevent its disappearance from our planet."

Like many primate species in Vietnam, doucs have been devastated by hunting and habitat loss. Biologists consider as much as 65 percent of Vietnam’s primate species endangered, making the country a global hotbed for primate conservation efforts. Conservationists are hoping that the recent discovery will step up habitat protection efforts throughout Vietnam.

Source: Conservation International