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Two grey-shanked doucs. Credit: Nguyen Van Truong/FFI.

Rare monkeys found deep in the forests of Vietnam’s Central Highlands

Posted on: 04.03.16 (Last edited) 4 March 2016

Recent survey by Fauna & Flora International finds 500 grey-shanked doucs.

A population of at least 500 grey-shanked doucs has been uncovered by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) during a recent field survey conducted in Kon Tum Province, Vietnam. This almost doubles the known global population of this enigmatic and beautiful primate.

“To discover a large population of one of Vietnam’s most rare and precious animals is truly an honour,” said Trinh Dinh Hoang, who led the survey effort. Prior to this discovery, the entire species was thought to have only 800-1,000 individuals remaining, and consequently has been listed as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.

Restricted to the forests of central Vietnam, the main threats to the grey-shanked douc are deforestation, habitat fragmentation and hunting. Doucs are targeted for the illegal wildlife trade and are hunted for bush meat, traditional medicine and the pet trade.

Grey-shanked douc. Credit: Nguyen Van Truong/FFI.

The grey-shanked douc has been named as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. Credit: Nguyen Van Truong/FFI.

FFI Country Director, Dr Ben Rawson said, “This really is Vietnam’s monkey; it is found nowhere else. This new population provides hope, but the species is sadly still on the brink of extinction – something that FFI is working hard to prevent.” FFI has worked in Vietnam since 1997 with a strong focus on conserving Vietnam’s native primate species through government and community partnerships.

The recent discovery has been strongly supported by Vietnamese corporations. “There is a growing interest among the corporate sector in supporting the conservation of Vietnam’s unique biodiversity,” said Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh, Chairwoman/CEO of REE Corporation. “We have an obligation to contribute to a lasting legacy in relation to our natural heritage.”

Russell A. Mittermeier, long-time Chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group, put the discovery into context. “Vietnam is now considered to have 11 Critically Endangered primate species, and therefore represents a priority for conservation in Southeast Asia and indeed in the world,” he said. “Historical large-scale forest loss and persecution of primates for the illegal wildlife trade has resulted in the current situation requiring last ditch conservation efforts in many cases.”

Despite the good news of the find, doucs are still listed as Critically Endangered. “It will take the combined efforts of government, local communities, civil society, scientists and donors to ensure the long-term survival of this species, but this is a step in the right direction,” added Dr Rawson.

For more information, read the press release.

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Alice Salaun-Carney

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Vietnam is now considered to have 11 Critically Endangered primate species, and therefore represents a priority for conservation in Southeast Asia and indeed in the world.

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