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.