Tonkin snub-nosed monkey's decline reverses in Vietnam

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Snub-nosed monkeys found in Ha Giang Province's Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area. PHOTO: FAUNA&FLORA INTERNATIONAL

Almost half of the global population of the Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys has been found alive and well in Vietnam, suggesting that the primate's disheartening decline has seen a rare and dramatic reversal, conservationists say.

A survey conducted in Ha Giang Province between September and October found the highest number of the critically endangered species ever recorded.

The management board of the Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area announced that between 108 113 of the distinctive looking primate were recorded at the site.

Previously, the highest recorded number for the protected area was approximately 90 individuals, suggesting the population is recovering.

The survey was led by the NGO Fauna & Flora International's (FFI) Vietnam primate program biologist Nguyen Van Truong and was assisted by locally based community conservation teams and a University of Colorado Boulder research team.

The Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus) is found only in northern Vietnam in a few isolated patches of forest. With an estimated global population of just 200-250 individuals, the species has been pushed to the brink of extinction through habitat loss and hunting, despite being protected under Vietnamese law.

The Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area is now confirmed to be home to the largest population of this critically-endangered species in the world with almost half of the estimated global population in residence.

"The management of Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area is very happy with this new information about the Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys," Hoang Van Tue, chief of conservation for the Forest Protection Department of Ha Giang said. "And the observation of newborn monkeys during the survey is an encouraging sign for the future of the species."

Benjamin Rawson, FFI's regional primate program manager, said this represents one of the few examples of a reversal in decline of one of Vietnam's critically endangered species.

"With the commitment of Vietnamese authorities and involvement of local communities, wildlife population declines can be reversed," he said.

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