BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Endangered apes sing out in Vietnam
Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey (Flora and Fauna International)
The researchers found a new group of rare monkeys
test hello test
By Clare Arthurs
BBC Hanoi correspondent
The songs of one of the world's smallest and most endangered apes have been recorded for the first time in Vietnam.

Researchers say the recordings confirm that at least eight Eastern Black-crested Gibbons still survive in northern Vietnam.

Listen to the Gibbon songs

The researchers, from the conservation group Fauna and Flora International (FFI), say there is an urgent need for more to be done to protect the apes.

They are one of five primate species in northern Vietnam that are on the brink of extinction, say conservationists.

The apes are also known as Hainan Gibbons because China's Hainan island is the only other place where they have already been found. Just 14 exist on the island.

Mating call

The FFI conservationists say their recordings were taken in Cao Bang province, on the border with China. They also interviewed village hunters and believe another six of the small apes are still alive in Bac Kan province.

Remains of a monkey (Flora and Fauna International)
Monkeys in Vietnam are threatened by the hunting trade

However, the pressure from hunters is blamed for the apes effectively losing their voices - researchers have been unable to identify the Bac Kan group as they have stopped their signature early morning songs.

Males and females sing complex harmonies to mate and to mark territory.

The new discovery suggests there are now about 30 Eastern Black-crested Gibbons in the world.

But in a hopeful sign for the survival of primates in Vietnam, FFI says its researchers have also found a new group of the endangered Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey, which is found in just one part of northern Vietnam.

FFI's Vietnam manager, Frank Momberg, says the country has a rich bio-diversity but its apes are at risk.

"If a primate species is lost, it will be from Vietnam," he says.

Mr Momberg says small apes have been overshadowed by previous campaigns to save the great apes, gorillas and orang-utans.

Losing interest

He blames a new shift to protecting landscapes and bio-diversity in general for the lack of attention paid by scientists and conservationists to the endangered smaller primates.

In Vietnam they are threatened by hunting and the wildlife trade, and by loss of habitat.

Some programmes to educate local villagers about the need to protect their wildlife are successful, but FFI says it is time for the rest of the world to help Vietnam.

Otherwise the song of the Eastern Black-crested Gibbon could be forever silent within five years.

Endangered apes
Listen to the song of the Eastern Black-crested Gibbons
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Cultural habits of chimps
14 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Primate roots of red-green vision
13 Aug 01 | Africa
Saving man's distant cousin
26 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Monkey species 'gone for good'
12 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Dire outlook for many primates
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories