Primate Conservation in Asia
Maximizing the sustainability of critically endangered species requires a fundamental understanding of their biology, translating that knowledge base into workable conservation solutions and training the next generation of in-country scientists and reserve managers. Throughout Asia, we employ that strategy to protect critically imperiled species from extinction. Currently we are concentrating our efforts on odd-nosed monkeys, a group of leaf-eating monkeys that includes douc langurs, snub-nosed monkeys, and proboscis monkeys.
In China, we are studying the biological requirements of Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys, a species that is more threatened than the giant panda. Only about 750 individuals survive in the Wuling Mountains in Fanjingshan Nature Reserve. With full support from the reserve, we are developing a long-term plan to increase our knowledge of this species and reduce human pressure in critical habitat areas. In northern Vietnam, our researchers are making every effort to stop the loss of Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys in forests where they are hunted still. Of the estimated 150 individuals that remain, 90 are found in Khau Ca, and we are assisting the local government and forest protection department to delineate and manage the protected area for this critically endangered monkey. We are working with the Douc Langur Foundation and a local forest agency to reduce poaching of red-shanked douc langurs in Son Tra Nature Reserve in central Vietnam. Like many reserves, Son Tra is under pressure from human development, and with our partners we are developing strategies to improve the sustainability of the habitat. As an additional conservation tactic, we continue to partner with rescue centers throughout Asia such as the Singapore Zoo, conducting behavioral studies of endangered leaf-eating monkeys to improve captive breeding.
As in the past, each of our projects promotes training and professional development of range-country scientists and reserve staff members. The Asia Program currently is supporting the thesis projects of several graduate students in China and Vietnam. Most recently, we initiated the first of a series of graduate-level primate training courses for range-country students. The inaugural course was conducted in the Vietnam Forestry University in Hanoi. The Asia Program enlisted Primate Conservation, Inc. as a financial sponsor and supported 10 students representing Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and China.
Public education is vital to species conservation. We created the Little Green Guards (LGG), a conservation education and outreach program aimed to increase understanding of wildlife in rural children in Guizhou. This program was founded in 2011 by Institute scientist Chia Tan in collaboration with Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration, the in situ coordinating body. Our inaugural effort emphasized raising awareness of the Guizhou (or gray) snub-nosed monkey and the François’ langur, the flagships of Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) and Mayanghe National Nature Reserve, respectively. During November and December 2011, we implemented our education and outreach activities in Taohuayuan and Dabaoçun primary schools. Our target audience included 286 students and 16 teachers. Since they had not been introduced to conservation education, we focused on fostering positive experiences through simple narratives that accompanied visual presentations, games, music, arts, and guided field trips. We also used this opportunity to evaluate students’ general knowledge of and attitudes toward the flagship monkey species and other animals, both domesticated and wild, to ascertain children’s preference, and to some degree attitudes and awareness. The information obtained will be used to design appropriate and effective conservation education modules and additional LGG activities in the near future. More…