AboutZoos, Since 2008


New pop­u­la­tion of Myan­mar snub-​nosed mon­key dis­cov­ered in China

pub­lished 19 May 2012 | mod­i­fied 05 Decem­ber 2012

Sci­en­tists in China have located a sec­ond pop­u­la­tion of the Myan­mar snub-​nosed mon­key (Rhino­p­ithe­cus stryk­eri), a pri­mate that was only first dis­cov­ered two years ago in Myan­mar, also known as Burma.

Long Yongcheng, sci­en­tist with the Nature Con­ser­vancy in China, told the China Daily that his team have dis­cov­ered 50100 Myan­mar snub-​nosed mon­keys in the Gaoligong Moun­tain Nat­ural Reserve near the bor­der with Myan­mar in Yun­nan Province.

The newly-​discovered snub-​nosed mon­keys are cov­ered in black fur, weigh 2030 kg, mea­sure 1.2 meters long and bear sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences from the Yun­nan Golden Monkey
Long Yongcheng, direc­tor of the China Pri­mate Spe­cial­ist Group »

Chi­nese sci­en­tists were able to pho­to­graph and even video­tape the species. But it was the monkey’s scat and fur that proved it was the Myan­mar snub-​nosed mon­key: DNA tests showed a 98.2 per­cent match with the species in Myan­mar.

The Myan­mar snub-​nosed mon­key first came to the world’s atten­tion in 2010 when a researcher announced its dis­cov­ery based on a car­cass killed by a local hunter Myan­mar. Locals referred to the mon­key as mey nwoah, or ‘mon­key with an upturned face’, and noted that hunters could find them eas­ily in the rain, because their noses caused them to sneeze from rain­drops col­lect­ing in them (more facts here).

Myanmar snub-nosed monkey
At the begin­ning of this year, researchers released the first pho­tos of the new pri­mate — blurry shots taken by cam­era trap, but they doc­u­mented the pres­ence of the ani­mals and some even showed moth­ers with babies and fam­ily groups. Dwelling deep in Myanmar’s tem­per­ate forests, to date, the pop­u­la­tion in Myan­mar has never been cap­tured on hand­held cam­era or even seen by a sci­en­tist.

The dis­cov­ery of a sec­ond, albeit small, pop­u­la­tion in China is good news for the species, as the pop­u­la­tion in Myan­mar is imper­iled by hunt­ing and trap­ping, activ­i­ties which could worsen as log­ging makes inroads on their habi­tat. There are five species of snub-​nosed mon­key, all of them threat­ened, except the Myan­mar snub-​nosed mon­key which hasn’t been eval­u­ated, but may fit the cri­te­ria for Crit­i­cally Endan­gered.

Myan­mar has one of world’s the high­est defor­esta­tion rates, which is at least partly dri­ven by China’s ris­ing demand for raw logs and other com­modi­ties. Between 1990 and 2010, Myan­mar lost 19 per­cent of its for­est cover, or around 7,445,000 hectares, an area larger than Ire­land. Experts warn that with­out strong reg­u­la­tions the pace of log­ging could even worsen as Myan­mar opens up to inter­na­tional mar­kets after years of mil­i­tary dictatorship.

In China researchers are call­ing for urgent gov­ern­ment mea­sures to enhance pro­tec­tion and put an end to hunt­ing activ­i­ties by res­i­dents, who crave their shiny furs, unaware of the animal’s endan­gered status.

We’ve put ‘Nujiang’ in their Chi­nese name, as we hope it will boost local people’s aware­ness of, and enthu­si­asm for, pro­tect­ing the animal
(Long Yongcheng)

Forestry author­i­ties in Nujiang said they have dis­patched more forces to mon­i­tor and pro­tect the golden mon­keys, as well as to edu­cate local res­i­dents on the monkey’s endan­gered sta­tus. And like the giant panda, the mon­keys are placed under top state pro­tec­tion as they are counted among China’s “national treasures”.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at Mongabay and Chi­naDaily. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Sources: Mongabay, 16.05.2012; ChinaDaily-​usa, 16.05.2012; Fauna & Flora International)

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