Fauna & Flora International found about 40 individuals in northern Vietnam, called for urgent conservation action
Fauna & Flora International scientists say they have discovered the world's second largest Delacour's langur population in northern Vietnam, bringing renewed hope for the critically endangered species.
But they also say that urgent action is still needed to protect the primates.
Following anecdotal reports of sightings in a once largely unexplored forest in the north of Vietnam, the scientists from FFI Vietnam conducted field assessments to ascertain whether this species does indeed live in the area, the organization said in a statement.
"Our surveys and assessments revealed that there was a population of significant size. We detected seven groups of Delacour’s langur, with the total number of primates in the population as high as 40. Only one other area in Vietnam has a larger population of Delacour’s langur," said Trinh Dinh Hoang, FFI Vietnam's biodiversity technical advisor.
Delacour’s langur is indigenous to Vietnam. It is currently under severe threat of extinction with fewer than 250 left due to human activities such as hunting, stone mining and charcoal production.
"This discovery is good news – both for the species and for the people of Vietnam, particularly because we have also identified a number of infants and juveniles among the groups,” Hoang said.
“This means that they are breeding and, if we can protect them, they should be able to thrive in this habitat once again."
Benjamin Rawson, country director of FFI Vietnam, warned that urgent interventions to curb negative human activity such as hunting and mining are needed in order to safeguard these primates and their habitat.
"We've notified the Vietnamese authorities of our findings and recommendations, and we continue to work alongside officials and local communities to ensure the Delacour’s langur doesn’t become this century’s first primate extinction," he said.
Delacour’s langur was first discovered by Jean Théodore Delacour in 1930 and described by Wilfred Hudson Osgood in 1932.
In the early 1990s, a comprehensive survey recorded 19 isolated subpopulations comprised of 50-57 groups and 281-317 individuals in an area of about 5,000 square kilometers in the north of Vietnam.
More recent surveys indicated that the species has experienced a significant decrease in both the number of populations and the number of individuals, according to FFI.