"The rarest primate in the world" returns: the discovery of a pair of Hainan Gibbons raises hopes that critically endangered species can be saved from extinction
- There were less than ten Hainan Gibbons in the world in the 1970s
- A major conservation effort has seen that number stabilize and increase to around 30
- A new breeding pair has been discovered, giving hope for continued recovery
A critically endangered primate appears to be recovering after conservationists discovered a new breeding pair.
The Hainan Gibbon is a monkey found only on the Chinese forest island of the same name and, in the 1970s, the world population was less than ten.
However, half a century of conservation work has seen the world's rarest primate population slowly rise to over 30.
Now, a male and a female have been spotted in a new stretch of forest and are believed to be creating and forming their own family group – the fifth on the island.
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A critically endangered primate appears to be recovering after conservationists discovered a new breeding pair
It is easy to identify a breeding pair, as a male is jet black, while females are impressive gold.
They are also extremely vocal animals, producing loud calls to mark their territory. These calls also double as a way for men and women to strengthen their bonds by singing duets at dawn.
The new pair was discovered when these calls were heard in a new region of the forest. Patrols later confirmed the new pair.
This development is seen as highly significant in the fight against the extinction of the species.
Populations of long-limbed tree monkeys were wiped out in the 20th century due to habitat loss as their home was cut down to make space for farms.
Hunting and poaching were also a major driver of its decline.
As a result of the invasion of its habitat, the number of Hainan Gibbon went from about 2,000 in the 1950s to unique numbers in 1970.
In 2003, the first complete census found only 13 people living on the island, and conservationists were faced with the harsh reality of the crisis.
When the dire state of the primate population was revealed, the Hainan Gibbon Conservation Project, administered by Kadoorie Farm and the Hong Kong Botanical Garden, was established.
Since then, the numbers have stabilized and a fragile recovery has begun. With the new breeding pair, the population is expected to continue to grow.
Philip Lo, senior conservation officer, told the BBC the growing numbers can be seen as "good news that can encourage other conservation colleagues".
The Hainan Gibbon is a monkey found only on the Chinese forest island of the same name and in the 1970s the world population was less than ten (photo, location of the Chinese island Hainan)
It is easy to identify a breeding pair, as a male is jet black, while females are impressive gold. They are also extremely vocal animals, producing loud calls to mark their territory
The monkey populations that lived in the trees were wiped out in the 20th century due to habitat loss, as their house was cut down to make space for the farms. Hunting and poaching were also a major driver of its decline
However, many other species of gibbon are still heading for oblivion. The Hainan Gibon is the only one of 19 species of Gibbon in the world to show a steady increase in number.
Conservationists are encouraged by the signs of recovery, but warn that the animal is still at risk, as verified by its formal classification as & # 39; critically endangered & # 39; by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
If the total number of Haunan Gibbons exceeds 50, the IUCN designation is likely to be downgraded to & # 39; threatened with extinction & # 39 ;, according to Lo.
In 2007, monkeys were being forced to live in a 10-square-kilometer stretch of forest, devoid of succulent fruits – figs and lychees – that monkeys prefer to eat.
Thousands of native trees were planted, conservationists patrolled the region and research was started to learn more about the ecology and behavior of animals.
Researchers say the Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction & # 39; man-made & # 39; with & # 39; biological annihilation & # 39; wildlife
The world has suffered five mass extinctions over its history, and experts say we are seeing another one happening now.
A 2017 research article stated that & # 39; biological annihilation & # 39; of wildlife in recent decades has triggered the sixth mass extinction and says the planet is heading towards a “global crisis”.
Scientists warn that humanity's voracious consumption and arbitrary destruction are to blame for the event, which is the first major extinction since the dinosaurs.
Two species of vertebrates, animals with a backbone, became extinct every year, on average, in the last century.
Currently, about 41% of amphibian species and more than a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction.
It is estimated that there are 8.7 million species of plants and animals on our planet, and about 86% of terrestrial species and 91% of marine species remain unknown.
Of those we know, 1,204 species of mammals, 1,469 birds, 1,215 reptiles, 2,100 amphibians and 2,386 species of fish are considered threatened.
1,414 insects, 2,187 molluscs, 732 crustaceans, 237 corals, 12,505 plants, 33 mushrooms and six species of brown algae are also threatened.
More than 25,000 species from 91,523 evaluated for the updating of the & # 39; Red List & # 39; 2017 were classified as & # 39; threatened & # 39 ;.
The number of invertebrates at risk has also peaked.
Scientists predict that insects may be extinct within 100 years as a result of population decline.
The beginning of the mass extinction coincides with the beginning of the Anthropocene – the geological age defined by human activity is the dominant influence on the climate and the environment.
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