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We also organize events with local schools such as drawing competitions, which are related to the conservation of the cao vit gibbon. The idea is to build a sense of ownership of the species to ensure that they will be looked after both now and in the future.
FFI China Primate Programme Manager
The radiant cao vit gibbon (Nomascus nasutus), also known as the eastern black crested gibbon, is the rarest ape in the world after its closest relative the Hainan gibbon. It is only known from one patch of forest on the China-Vietnam border where an Fauna & Flora International (FFI) survey team rediscovered it in 2002.
Recent surveys have recorded about 110 individuals. FFI’s country programmes in China and Vietnam are working together to protect this population on both sides of the border.
The main threat to these gibbons is habitat destruction for fuelwood collection and livestock grazing. To reduce fuelwood extraction FFI has promoted fuel-efficient stoves in local villages and provided some household bio-gas plants. In addition, a local tree species is being cultivated in plantations as a fuelwood substitute. The project also works with local villages to control livestock grazing and reduce their impact on the forest.
FFI has established and continues to support Vietnamese and Chinese community patrol groups which patrol the gibbon’s habitat, supervised by government forestry officials.
In 2007, the Cao Vit Gibbon Conservation Area was established in Vietnam to strengthen protection for this species and in 2009 the adjoining forest in China was established as a nature reserve, so now the whole habitat of the gibbon is formally protected. Habitat restoration now becomes a priority for long-term survival of this species.
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Cao vit gibbons have some unique characteristics; the white disc of fur around the face of the female and dark streak from its head down its back gives it very distinctive and beautiful marking; this is the only gibbon of this genus with babies which are born black, as opposed to buff yellow or orange.