July 30, 2012

Evidence of snub-nosed monkey in China

snub_nosed_monkey_lr.jpgChina recently released the first photographic evidence of snub-nosed monkeys

Recently photographed alive and well in China’s Myanmar primary forest, researchers had not previously been able to get photographic evidence of the snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus Strykeri.  The images have revealed the species as having almost entirely blackish fur with white fur only on ear tufts, chin beard and perineal area; its long tail is also a distinguishing feature, reaching around 140% of its body size.  The upturned nostrils of the monkey are believed by local hunters to make it sneeze when it rains.


A paper was recently published in the American Journal of Primatology and follows the original discovery in 2010 by a team led by Ngwe Lwin from the Myanmar Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association.  Until the recent photos of the monkey in China’s section of Myanmar, it was believed that the species was isolated to the Kachin State of north eastern Myanmar in Burma.  We now know that it has an international range, despite being a critically endangered species.

“The population of this species is hard to estimate, but based on our contacts with the monkey group both in October 2011 and in March 2012 we estimate the population to be less than 100 individuals,” said Yongcheng Long from the Nature Conservancy China Program. “However, while we now know the home range to be far greater than previously believed, we still do not yet know the true population number or the extent of their home range as the monkeys are shy and very hard to access.”

In local dialects the monkey is known as mey nwoah (monkey with an upturned face).  Whilst concerns for the species are high, according to Frank Momberg of Fauna & Flora International:  “the discovery of Rhinepithecus strykeri in China gives a bit more hope for the species survival.”

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, 48.3% or about 31,773,000 ha of Myanmar is forested, according to FAO. Of this 10.0% ( 3,192,000 ) is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse and carbon-dense form of forest.  However, the forest itself is under threat, with almost 20% (around 7.5 million hectares) being deforested between 1990 and 2010.

Source: Science Daily and Mongabay


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