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8 Jul 2021 | HI-LIFE

The status of primates

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The Gaoligong hoolock gibbon is one of China's first-level protected animals and one of the most endangered wild species. The gibbon has an interesting habit. It calls to show its own territory in the early morning. This kind of calls was noticed by the ancients long time ago. In the spring of 2012, when I was shooting a family of Gaoligong hoolock gibbons, I just happened to catch up with their calling time. The male gibbon was just enjoying calling in front of me, with innocent eyes, a bright singing voice, and a lovely mouth shape. In the face of this species, which is the closest to human beings, I couldn't be more moved by the creation of nature. It is a pity that the total number of Gaoligong hoolock gibbons is less than 150. What is more dangerous is that most gibbon families live in broken and disconnected forests. If no measures are taken, this gibbon may face extinction in the next half century. If this beautiful, full-of-aura, animal disappears, it will not only be a sorrow for this species, but also a huge loss for the world. Photo: Lei Dong.

Addressing information gaps and promoting joint research and conservation in the Far Eastern Himalaya

The status of primates

The Far Eastern Himalaya is home to many rare and endemic species of primates. Unfortunately, they have not received adequate conservation attention like other charismatic species such as the tiger, snow leopard, and red panda. Our review of literature showed that of the approximately 13,000 studies published between 1971 and 2015 in 21 primate specialist journals and newsletters, only 80 studies, accounting for less than 1%, investigated the effectiveness of primate conservation interventions.

To address the research gaps and insufficient landscape-level assessments on the status of primates, and to promote greater joint research and conservation efforts, we have developed a strategic partnership with Aaranyak in India, and collaborated on new research areas with Wildlife Conservation Society – Myanmar and Fauna and Flora International – Myanmar. The new partnership agreement with FFI focuses on joint research on the Skywalker gibbon in Myanmar and China.

Sixteen species of primates are found in the Far Eastern Himalaya, including the Bengal slow loris, eastern hoolock gibbon, western hoolock gibbon, Skywalker hoolock gibbon, Shortridge’s langur, Gee’s golden langur, Phayre’s leaf monkey, capped langur, Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, black snubnosed monkey, Assamese macaque, northern pigtailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque, Arunachal macaque, rhesus macaque, and white-cheeked macaque. Significantly, two of them (white-cheeked macaque and Skywalker hoolock gibbon) were discovered only in the last decade. Thirteen are listed in various threatened categories of the IUCN Red List (2020) with one – the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey listed as Critically Endangered (CR), eight Endangered (EN), and four Vulnerable (VU).

Primates can act as flagship species and rallying symbols for conservation efforts. With many primates now threatened with extinction and many species only persisting in small and isolated populations in forest fragments, conservation action is urgently needed at the landscape level. Restoring and connecting primate habitat must be integral to all conservation strategies in the region. Our efforts over the last two years have focused on bringing the focus back on primate research, including landscape-level review, conservation planning and monitoring, and developing landscape-level proposals for primate research and conservation.

With many primates now threatened with extinction and many species only persisting in small and isolated populations in forest fragments, urgent conservation action is needed at the landscape level.

The status of primates

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