Researchers working in Northern Myanmar have captured the first photographs of the recently discovered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey.
Announced today in Yangon, Myanmar, a joint team from Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) and People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF), caught pictures of the monkey on camera traps placed in the high, forested mountains of Kachin state, bordering China.
“The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey was described scientifically in 2010 from a dead specimen collected from a local hunter,” said Frank Momberg of FFI, who organised the initial expeditions that led to the monkey’s discovery. “As yet, no scientist has seen a live individual,” he added.
“These images are the first record of the animal in its natural habitat,” said Ngwe Lwin, the Burmese national who first recognised the monkey as a possible new species. “It is great to finally have photographs because they show us something about how and where it actually lives,” he added.
Heavy snows in January and constant rain in April made expeditions to set the camera traps difficult. “We were dealing with very tough conditions in a remote and rugged area that contained perhaps fewer than 200 monkeys,” said Jeremy Holden, who led the camera trapping team. “We didn’t know exactly where they lived, and I didn’t hold out much hope of short term success with this work.” But in May a small group of snub-nosed monkeys walked past one of the cameras and into history. “We were very surprised to get these pictures,” said Saw Soe Aung, a field biologist who set the cameras. “It was exciting to see that some of the females were carrying babies – a new generation of our rarest primate.”
As with most of Asia’s rare mammals, the snub-nosed monkey is threatened by habitat loss and hunting. The team is now working together with the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forest (MOECAF), local authorities and communities to help safeguard the future of the species. In February this year, FFI and MOECAF will hold an international workshop in Yangon aiming to create a conservation action plan for the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey.
In addition to the world’s first images of the snub-nosed monkey, the camera trapping also caught photos of other globally threatened species including red panda, takin, marbled cat, Malayan sun bear and rare pheasants such as Temminick’s tragopan, documenting the importance of this area for biodiversity conservation.
FFI and BANCA would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the European Union, Halycon Fund, Arcus Foundation, and Australia Zoo for supporting the conservation work for the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey.