Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project

To promote the survival of Cat Ba langurs in Vietnam

 

More than half of Vietnam consists of hills and mountains up to 3000 m asl. Originally nearly the whole country was covered by forests but nowadays, with a human population reaching 80 million people - about 225 people/km²- , only about 10 % of the forests is left. This is one of the reasons why wild animals are so endangered.

 

The primates of Vietnam include about 25 species or subspecies, including slow loris, macaques, langurs and gibbons, of which 10 are endemic to Vietnam. 16 species or subspecies are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Delacour's langur (Trachypithecus delacouri), golden-headed langur (Trachypithecus geei), Tonkin snub-nosed monkey  (Rhinopithecus avunculus), and eastern black-crested gibbon (Nomascus nasutus) are even among the 25 most-threatened primate species wolrdwide. As a reult of unsustainable resource management, the habitat of many species of primates, particularly endemic ones, continues to decline dramatically. The WAZA In Situ Workshop, held at Chonburi (Thailand) in 2001, considered the surveillance and protection of primates in Vienam as a top priority.  

 

In 1999, the golden-headed langur,Trachypithecus poliocephalus, also named Cat Ba langur, received the sad title of the most endangered primate of the world (Conservation International 2000). The species lives only on Cat Ba Island in the well-known World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay. Its distribution range was declared as a National Park in 1986, but this measure did not stop further population decline. The main causes for this decline were poaching, and destruction of habitat as a result of agriculture intensification and forestry. In October 2000, Münster Zoo and ZGAP jointly started the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project. About 60 langurs in at least seven isolated subpopulations have since been identified on the island by the project manager Dr. Roswitha Stenke. Most of the groups do not have any natural possibility for contact with one another. Currently, about 30 % of the total population live outside the borders of the National Park. They are isolated on small islands or between agricultural areas and thus highly endangered by human activities. Information and awareness campaigns for the local human population as well as financial support to lower the need for poaching would have taken too much time to preserve the species. Therefore, as an urgent measure, a strictly protected sanctuary within the National Park was set up on a peninsula of about 8 km length and 3 km width at the eastern coast of Cat Ba Island. This area is connected via a narrow land bridge to the main island and supports about 40 % of the remnant langur population. The fjords between this peninsula and the main island were delimitated with blocking buoys and prohibition signs, a new ranger station was constructed and patrols of rangers were increased in this area. The local fishermen and house-boat settlers were informed about the creation of the sanctuary, the nature conservation laws and the status of the langurs. In addition, to preserve the remaining langur groups outside the National Park, guards entitled to take out unauthorised persons and to confiscate poaching equipment have been recruited from private households. All existing and potential sleeping caves as well as all hunter trails have been registered and are now regularly controlled. These measures showed a first big success: since the end of 2001 no further hunting activities have been observed. Since the start of the project, nine offspring have been born, while only three animals died in the same period, resulting in the first increase of the population for decades. However, relocation of isolated langurs into the sanctuary is necessary to enlarge reproductive rate and to avoid further loss of genetic diversity in the small remnant populations.

 

WAZA Conservation Project 04009 is jointly operated by Münster Zoo (Germany) and Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten und Populationsschutz (ZGAP), and supported by Apenheul Primate Park (The Netherlands)and the Stiftung Artenschutz ("Species Conservation Foundation").  

 

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