Vietnam: World’s second largest Delacour’s langur population found in Vietnam

Vietnam Net 23 Aug 16;

The world’s second largest population of the critically endangered Delacour’s langur was recently discovered by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), giving fresh hope for one of the planet’s rarest species.

Following reports of sightings in a once largely unexplored forest in north Vietnam, scientists from conservation NGO FFI Vietnam conducted field assessments to ascertain whether this species does indeed live in the area.

"Our surveys and assessment 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 being as high as 40. Only one other area in Vietnam has a larger population of Delacour’s langur," said FFI Vietnam’s Biodiversity Technical Advisor Trinh Dinh Hoang.

Delacour’s langur is indigenous to Vietnam, but because of human activities such as hunting, stone mining and charcoal production, it faces a severe threat of extinction with fewer than 250 left, a press release issued yesterday said.

Although they remain under grave danger of being wiped out within a decade, scientists now have renewed hope that they can be saved.

"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. This means that they are breeding and, if we can protect them, they should be able to thrive in this habitat once again," Hoang said

However, Dr Benjamin Rawson, country director of FFI Vietnam, warned that urgent interventions to curb human activity such as hunting and mining were needed to safeguard these prized primates and their habitat.

Speaking at the Congress of the International Primatological Society in Chicago, he said: "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."

Delacour’s langur (Trachypithecus delacouri) is a primate endemic to Vietnam, 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 comprising 50 to 57 groups and 281 to 317 individuals in an area of about 5, in north Vietnam.

More recent surveys indicated that there has been a significant decrease in both the number of groups and the number of individuals.

Rare endangered primate spotted in Vietnam
AFP Yahoo News 24 Aug 16;

A new group of critically endangered primates has been spotted in Vietnam, raising hopes the rare creatures may not be wiped out in the next decade as scientists had feared.

The Delacour's langur, black and white with a full face of whiskers, is indigenous to Vietnam, but their numbers have dwindled in recent years because of poaching and mining activity in the country's northern forests.

A team of scientists from Fauna and Flora International spotted a group of about 40 of the primates, mostly juveniles and infants, bringing their total population to less than 250.

"It's great news for this particular species because had we not found this new population, they were in grave danger of being wiped out within a decade," spokeswoman for FFI in Vietnam, Akofa Wallace, told AFP Tuesday.

"The fact that they are breeding is brilliant news," she added.

FFI did not say where scientists spotted the langurs, whose habitat is threatened by mining activity in the area, including charcoal production.

They are also targeted by poachers who hunt them for meat, with their bones used for traditional medicine and their pelts for decoration.

The primate was discovered in northern Vietnam in the 1930s by French scientist Jean Theodore Delacour, and are only found in Vietnam.

FFI country director Benjamin Rawson said urgent interventions were needed to protect the species, which numbered about 300 in the early 1990s.

"We continue to work alongside officials and local communities to ensure the Delacour's langur doesn't become this century's first primate extinction," Rawson said in a statement.

The rare animals are protected under Vietnam's conservation laws, but critics say the legislation is not effectively enforced and poaching of rare or endangered species continues unchecked.

Vietnam is home to some of world's most endangered species, including the mountainous antelope Saola, the Red River giant soft-shell turtle and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey.

Wild animals are under constant threat in the country, with their body parts in high demand for both food and traditional medicine.