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Two large populations of endangered monkeys discovered in Cambodia

Two large populations of endangered monkeys discovered in Cambodia

Two large populations of endangered monkeys discovered in Cambodia
August 28, 2008

Conservationists have discovered “surprisingly large populations” of two globally threatened primates in a protected area in Cambodia.

The yellow-cheeked crested gibbon (top) [Credit: Matt Hunt] and the black-shanked douc langur (bottom) [Credit: Allan Michaud].

Surveys by scientists with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Cambodian government counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia’s Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area. The estimate represents the largest known populations for both species in the world, according to a report released by the conservation group.

Seima was once a logging area where the monkeys were heavily hunted, but WCS says that the recovery of the primates began in 2002 when Cambodia’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries declared the region a conservation area and began working with WCS on conservation and development. The effort was aided by a nation-wide gun confiscation program, cessation of logging activities, and the existence of habitat where there is plenty of food. Nevertheless WCS is still concerned about threats to the forest zone.

“Despite this good news in Cambodia, the area still remains at risk from conversion to agro-industrial plantations for crops, including biofuels, and commercial mining,” said Tom Clements, the lead author of the WCS report. “WCS is therefore committed to continuing to work with the Cambodian Government to ensure that these globally important primate populations will continue to remain secure.”

The positive conservation news comes on the heels of an announcement by WCS that a population of 125,000 western lowland gorillas had been discovered in northern Republic of Congo.

“Whether it’s protecting gorillas in the Republic of Congo or monkeys and gibbons in Cambodia, conservation can and does work when you have government commitment and scientific knowledge on the ground ,” said Dr. John G. Robinson, Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Now we must put into place the management to truly protect these populations and apply the approach to other regions where primates are in trouble.”

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