Vietnam’s primates ‘on the edge of extinction’

Primate experts, who gathered in Singapore last week to assess the status of all Asian primates, have launched a revised list of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. The group assessed the threat of extinction for 182 primate species in South China, South and Southeast Asia, including 25 species that occur in Vietnam.

The findings for Vietnam were particularly dire. Eleven species that occur in Vietnam were listed as Critically Endangered – up from seven on the 2008 list.

Several of these species occur only in Vietnam, putting the country in the spotlight for both its diversity of primates as well as the enormous threats they face, primarily from hunting and habitat loss. All but one species is listed as globally threatened.

The 11 species from Vietnam now on the edge of extinction include:

  1. Cat Ba langur (fewer than 70 individuals)
  2. Delacour’s langur (fewer than 200 individuals)
  3. Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (fewer than 200 individuals)
  4. Grey-shanked douc (fewer than 1,500 individuals)
  5. Red-shanked douc (population unknown)
  6. Black-shanked douc (population unknown)
  7. Cao vit gibbon (around 130 individuals)
  8. Western black-crested gibbon (fewer than 60 individuals in Vietnam)
  9. Northern white-cheeked gibbon (fewer than 300 groups in Vietnam)
  10. Southern white-cheeked gibbon (population unknown)
  11. Con Dao macaque (fewer than 2,000 individuals)

Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Vietnam Programme is currently working on the conservation of five of these species: Cat Ba langur, Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, cao vit gibbon, grey-shanked douc and western black-crested gibbon; however it is clear that additional work is needed.

“These updated assessments continue to highlight the importance of Vietnam as a centre of primate importance globally,” says Dr Ben Rawson, FFI-Vietnam Programme Country Director and IUCN SSC Co-Vice Chair for SSE Asia Region. “They also highlight that Vietnam is at risk of being the first country to lose a primate species to extinction.” To date no primate extinctions have been recorded in the 20th or 21st Centuries.

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. Credit: Xi Zhinong/WildChina/FFI.
Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. Credit: Xi Zhinong/WildChina/FFI.

Dr Le Khac Quyet, a leading Vietnamese primatologist, commented, “We need more actions to conserve Vietnam’s endangered primates and their habitats by improving population protection, afforestation, law enforcement and conservation biological studies as well as involvement of local people in wildlife conservation.”

Three of these Vietnamese species also occur on the newly released emergency action list – The World’s Top 25 Most Endangered Primates 2014-2016

Dr Russell Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group and Executive Vice Chair of Conservation International, said: “The purpose of our Top 25 list is to highlight those primates most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately-needed conservation measures. In particular, we want to encourage governments to commit to desperately-needed biodiversity conservation measures.”

For more information, please read the press release.

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