Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey Conservation
To conserve Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys 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 remain. This is one of the reasons why wild animals are so endangered in this country.
The primates of Vietnam include about 25 species or subspecies, including slow loris, macaques, langurs and gibbons, of which ten are endemic to Vietnam. Sixteen species or subspecies are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 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 worldwide. As a result 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 Vietnam as a top priority.
The Tonkin snub-nosed monkey is one of the ten most endangered primate species in the world. Until the 1960s, this endemic species of northern Vietnam was relatively widely distributed. The population then collapsed to merely 250 individuals today. The remaining Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are increasingly threatened by poaching and habitat destruction. One of their last remaining retreat areas, the Na Hang Nature Reserve, is situated to the north of Hanoi, in a remote region difficult to access. Comprising an area of about 41 000 ha, this area still contains large parts of pristine rain forest. Nevertheless, about 2000 people live in several settlements within the strongly protected areas of the nature reserve. Poaching and logging for firewood are widely performed and strongly influence the reserve. The construction of a dam represents a further threat. Preservation of the langurs and their habitat is only possible if the local human population is included.
Therefore, the Tonkin Snub-Nosed Monkey Conservation Project was initiated in 1997 by Münster Zoo, the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) and the Westphalian Society for Conservation. Rangers have been employed to fulfil the measures of the Forest Protection Department against poaching and illegal logging activities. Moreover, data on animal populations and forest status are regularly recorded, field surveys on species ecology and distribution are conducted, sustainable use of natural resources and alternative sources of income are encouraged and environmental education and awareness campaigns are implemented. Since the beginning of 2004, these activities have been supervised on site by the German biologist Sonja Wolters, after the former project manager Bettina Martin had become advisor to the Forest Protection Department in Hanoi.
WAZA Conservation Project 04007 is jointly implemented by the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP), the Westphalian Society for Conservation and Münster Zoo, in collaboration with the Forest Department of Vietnam, Hanoi, and with support provided by Stiftung Artenschutz ("Species Conservation Foundation"). The project has been terminated.
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