Myanmar’s sneezing monkey

In 2010, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) staff were part of a team of primatologists that discovered the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey in Myanmar. The monkey is found in Kachin State in north-eastern Myanmar as well as in Yunnan Province in southern China, close to the border with Myanmar, and is cut off from other related species by the Mekong and Salween Rivers. With an estimated population of only around 260-330 individuals, the species is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Myanmar snub-nosed monkey facts

  • The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey has almost entirely black fur with white only on its ear tufts, chin beard and perineal area
  • It also has a relatively long tail, almost one-and-a-half times the length of its body
  • Local people claim that these monkeys are easy to find in the rain, because they often get rainwater in their upturned noses, causing them to sneeze
  • Summer months are spent at higher altitudes in mixed temperate forests. In winter they descend closer to villages when snowfall makes food less accessible
At a glance
Rhinopithecus strykeri
Critically Endangered
MyanmarChina

Family:

Cercopithecidae

Order:

Primates

Est. in the wild:

260-330

Sometimes affectionately referred to as the ‘snubby’, the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey is such a rare and elusive species that only a few people have ever seen it.

2010

The year when the species was first officially recorded by a team of primatologists including FFI staff.

Two years

after its discovery, the species was formally classified as Critically Endangered.

Conservation story

The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey is facing serious threats, with its forest habitat coming under pressure from increased logging and development (including one of Asia’s largest hydropower development schemes).

To support these industries, new roads are being built, allowing hunters and illegal loggers easy access to the mountain forests. Meanwhile, the influx of workers to the region is increasing demand for bushmeat and wildlife products.

How FFI is helping to save the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey

As soon as FFI and partners made this startling discovery, we took immediate conservation action together with local communities to ensure the survival of this species, which was previously unknown to science.

We are monitoring Myanmar’s snub-nosed monkey using camera traps and intensive surveys, and have launched a comprehensive conservation awareness programme for local communities and Chinese construction workers.

We have also started a community ranger programme and a sustainable livelihoods programme for the forest-dependent indigenous peoples.