Survey doubles the number of world’s rarest ape08/07/2008 09:55:19 The population of the world's rarest ape, the cao vit gibbon, is now known to double what was previously thought, after the most comprehensive survey of the species so far, undertaken by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in Vietnam and China.
Prior to the survey, it was thought that only about 50 gibbons were left alive, but it is now estimated that some 110 inhabit the forests along the borderbetween China & Vietnam. The survey was the result of an unprecedented cross-border collaboration between Vietnam and China, and its findings will enhance the effectiveness of conservation efforts to protect this Critically Endangered species.
First detailed photos
Gibbons are native to the forests of Southeast Asia. Cao vit gibbons live in close-knit family groups comprising a male, 1 - 2 females and 2 - 5 offspring. They also make distinct and complex bird-like calls, called a 'song', which they can project up to two kilometres through the forest canopy. Adult family members sing both duets and solos (with the male and female singing different parts) in the early morning to defend their territory. This haunting melody has become part of the folklore of the indigenous people of Southeast Asia.
by recording their evocative songs. Preliminary estimates suggest that as many as 20 family groups survive. In addition, gibbons are now being reported from parts of the forest they had not previously been recorded in. People from Lung Hoai Village in Vietnam told project staff that they are now hearing gibbon songs near their village where they didn't before.
Rediscovered after 40 years
"We didn't want the cao vit gibbon to go the way of the Yangtze River dolphin, which was declared extinct last year."
FFI has established community groups to patrol and protect the gibbon's forest habitat and is working with local people to prevent habitat loss caused by livestock overgrazing, firewood collection and encroaching agriculture. Simple and cost effective measures such as providing villagers with simple fuel-efficient stoves are helping to relieve pressure on the gibbon's habitat.
The survey demonstrates the success so far of efforts to protect the gibbon. FFI was able to carry out the survey due to the successful training and participation of local people and the support of local government partners. We have made steady progress on the conservation of the species; in 2007, we helped to establish the Cao Vit Gibbon Conservation Area in Vietnam, and a nature reserve is currently being planned in China.
To hear gibbon song recordings and watch a video of their amazing forest acrobatics, visit www.fauna-flora.org.
More about Flora and Fauna International.