Tue, Jul 19, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Community of rare gibbons found in Vietnam’s forests

AFP, HANOI

A northern white-cheeked crested gibbon is seen in an undated photograph in an undisclosed location in Vietnam.

Photo: AFP

The lively morning calls of a rare species of gibbon has led to the discovery of the only known “viable” community of the talkative primates in remote Vietnamese forests, conservationists said yesterday.

A “substantial” population of 455 critically endangered northern white-cheeked crested gibbons were found living at high altitudes and far from human settlements on the border with Laos, Conservation International said.

Researchers, who had previously found sparse groups in other areas, used the animals’ “loud, elaborate and prolonged” calls to locate the creatures in Pu Mat National Park in Nghe An Province, northern Vietnam.

The community represents two-thirds of the total number in Vietnam and the “only confirmed viable population” of the variety worldwide.

Gibbons, which are threatened across the world, are considered the “most romantic” of primates as they mate for life and serenade their partners with song.

Habitat loss and hunting for the pet trade and the “assumed medicinal value of primate body parts” are among the major threats to the creatures in Vietnam, the group’s statement said.

White-cheeked gibbon numbers are thought to have declined by as much as 80 percent in the past 45 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.

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