Conserving the Critically Endangered Northern White-cheeked Gibbon in Vietnam

The northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) is already functionally extinct in China (Fan & Huo 2009), and assessments of populations in Vietnam (Rawson et al 2011) and Laos (Duckworth 2008) conducted by FFI clearly show that few populations are viable. Declines of this Indochinese endemic species are recorded across its range, including in Vietnam. Pu Mat National Park represents one of the last population strongholds for this Critically Endangered species, holding over 130 groups. However, despite formal protection, hunting of gibbons is known to persist in Pu Mat, where they are actively targeted for a primate ‘bone balm’, as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Therefore, the project is extremely time sensitive.
Pu Mat National Park is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas covering 91,113 hectares. Even in Pu Mat, the gibbon are exceptionally difficult to observe (although their songs are often heard, in the remotest areas). Pu Mat is a also priority area for other species that will benefit from the conservation interventions of this project, including the Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), which was only described in the 1990s, but is close to extinction, with no ‘safety net’ of individuals held in captivity and only extremely rare records from the wild.
The project goal is to secure the biodiversity values of Pu Mat National Park with a focus on the Critically Endangered flagship species of northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys), and enforce “No Kill” zones in the Park.
Specific activities will include: 1. Engaging local communities in forest protection, including supporting community-based conservation teams and awareness campaigns; 2. Support improvement of the enforcement of Pu Mat National Park, including the “No Kill” zones; 3. improve knowledge and capacity for biological monitoring including camera traps, biodiversity baseline surveys and vocalisation monitoring techniques.

Saving Delacour’s langur in Vietnam

hreatened by the loss of their forest habitat, primarily for agriculture and limestone (cement) quarrying, and hunting, for the creation of the ‘monkey bone balm’, a traditional Chinese medicine, Delacour’s langur are one of the world’s 25 most threatened primates. Van Long Nature Reserve in Ninh Binh province, northern Vietnam, is home to around 120 individuals and until last year there was no other viable population known to exist.
In late 2016 FFI surveys discovered a second significant population of around 40-50 langurs in Kim Bang forest in Vietnam’s Ha Nam province. Following the discovery, FFI immediately developed a ‘rapid response’ programme aimed at improving protection and gaining political support for forest and langur protection. With limited funds, FFI has trained and operationalised a six person community conservation team to undertake forest patrols and basic monitoring to protect these langurs, and has gained formal approval for the establishment of a new protected area in Kim Bang to conserve this critical population. A unique opportunity now exists to significantly contribute to the survival of this species by supporting the operationalisation of this new protected area and linking the population here to the population in Ninh Binh province.
Our vision for Delacour’s langur is to increase the population in the two remaining sites for the species to over 350 individuals in 20 -25 years.
Over the next three years we aim to enhance the formal protection of the species, reconnect key habitat and observe an increase in the total population of at least 10%. Our priority activities over the next three years are to: 1. Enhance habitat protection through the establishment of a new protected area; 2. Increase habitat availability and reduce risk of inbreeding through creating habitat corridors; 3. Establish community led conservation initiatives to support habitat conservation and species monitoring

Saving the Tonkin Snub Nosed Monkey in Vietnam

Endemic to Vietnam, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey once occupied the forests across much of the north-east of the country. Loss of habitat and hunting – for both local consumption and the traditional medicine trade – have driven a precipitous decline in this species. Until their rediscovery in 1992, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey was believed to be extinct; we now know that fewer than 200 individuals remain.
In 2002 FFI identified the largest known subpopulation, around 90 individuals at the time, at a site called Khau Ca and began work to conserve it. Thanks to the work of FFI the site has received formal legal protection and our concerted conservation efforts have enabled this population of Tonkin snub-nosed monkey to stabilise. Based on FFI field surveys, the population here has increased to around 121 individuals.
Recognising that working at a single site would always present inherent risks to the longterm survival of the species, we actively sought other sites where we hoped to find the species had survived. In 2008 FFI discovered a second site, Tung Vai, with around 30 monkeys which we have subsequently worked to protect.
Our Longterm vision: to increase the population in our two focal sites to over 500 individuals in approximately 25 years.
In the short term, ensuring the integrity of the habitat at our two local sites will be critical to the survival of the species. In the next three years we aim to maintain the growth of Khau Ca\’s Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys and at least stabilise the Tung Vai population. Our priority activities over the next three years are to: 1. Enhance habitat protection through improved law enforcement; 2. Increase habitat abailability through creating habitat corridors; 3. Balance the conflicting priorities of conservation and agriculture faced in Tonkin snub-nosed monkey habitats; 4. Address capacity gaps within the relevant agencies to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in primates and timber.

West African Primate Conservation

he West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) is an NGO working to safeguard four highly threatened primates in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. An initiative of Heidelberg Zoo, and supported by currently 18 Zoological Collections, WAPCA has been active since 2001 working closely with the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana to establish long term sustainable conservation programmes, both insitu and exsitu.

WAPCA primarily concentrates on four key areas:

  1. A captive breeding programme originating from rescued and rehabilitated wild caught primates based at the Endangered Primate Breeding Centre (EPBC) at Accra Zoo and the Forested Enclosure at Kumasi Zoo.The primates, notably the white-naped mangabey and the Roloway monkey, held at these two zoos participate in the EEP and since joining have received and transferred seven animals significantly contributing to the genetic diversity of the species.
  2. Community-based field work in habitat range areas of the wild primate populations. Empowering communities to manage their natural resources, to patrol and protect the forests and the primates, create community tree nurseries for reforestation and sustainable use, facilitate transboundary activities with Cote d’Ivoire and develop sustainable livelihoods and promote green value chains.
  3. WAPCA Research Group is a collaboration between local and international Universities established to collect data in cohesive manner. Research focuses both on captive and in-situ projects allowing our conservation actions to be well informed for maximum impact and to evaluate our actions when carried out.
  4. Both the EPBC and the Forested Enclosure provide a crucial educational tool for both local and international visitors to the zoos.  This captive populations inspire,    engage and empower visitors to consider their daily actions and actively participate in the protection of the planet and the animals which we share it with.