World's rarest gibbons expect new family in south China

2019-08-20 02:10:28 GMT2019-08-20 10:10:28(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

The population of Hainan gibbons, known as the world's rarest primates, has slowly grown to 29 thanks to afforestation efforts in China's southern island province of Hainan, conservationists have said.


The apes, endemic to the primeval rainforests in the Bawangling National Nature Reserve, have only four families but are expected to add a new family, said Lu Yongquan, deputy chief of the management of Bawangling.

"We found a lone female monkey during this year's investigation, which means we're likely to see the creation of a new family," Lu said, explaining that a Hainan gibbon family usually has one male and two female adults and will drive out new adult monkeys to form new families.

Numbering over 2,000 in the 1950s, Hainan gibbons' population plunged to about seven in the 1980s, with excessive hunting and lumbering pushing them to the brink of survival.

To save them from extinction, the local government established the Bawangling reserve in the monkey's last habitat in the 1980s, and afforestation drives were launched to increase the forest coverage from about 80 percent to 98 percent.

"About 100,000 trees have been planted in the past two decades, which helped restore the fragmented forest system," said Chen Qing, a researcher with the reserve who has monitored the threatened species for decades.

Typically living in rainforest trees over 10 meters tall, the Hainan gibbons, with long arms and legs but no tail, rarely set foot on the ground, making captive breeding difficult.

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