Sunday, August 20, 2017

First video footage of rare monkey emerges

A hunter in north-eastern Kachin State has captured what is widely believed to the first video footage of Myanmar’s critically endangered snub-nosed monkey.

A poster urging residents to protect the snub-nosed monkey is put up in an ethnic Lisu area of Kachin State. Photo: SuppliedA poster urging residents to protect the snub-nosed monkey is put up in an ethnic Lisu area of Kachin State. Photo: Supplied

Kaung Haung, who is trained as a field biologist and works for London-based wildlife protection agency Fauna and Flora International (FFI), shot the footage of the rare monkey in March during a month-long field survey.

“The video give us first glimpses into the social organisation of the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey,” said Frank Momberg, FFI Myanmar program director. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that there are between 260 to 330 of the monkeys living in the wild.

A team of primatologists discovered the species, which has the scientific name Rhinopithecus strykeri, in the Maw River area of Kachin State in 2010. Prior to the filming it had only be captured in still photos by camera traps.

FFI said that the footage showed the snub-nosed monkeys living in large social groups and that this means conservation efforts in the area need to be increased. “Larger groups require large home ranges and larger areas of contiguous forest need to be protected to ensure the survival of the species,” Mr Momberg said.

The area is under threat from Chinese logging operations that have deforested much of the monkey’s habitat.

“The local communities are very concerned about the logging. They see the scarred mountain slopes, landslides destroying not only forests but also some of their upland rice fields. Local people do not benefit at all since all workers involved in logging have come from China,” Mr Momberg said.

FFI is working with the Forest Department to collect evidence to support declaring the area a national park, which would be known as Imawbum National Park. FFI said that their hopes for the national park have been bolstered by the government signing a peace agreement with the New Democratic Army-Kachin as this has allowed for easier and wider access to the region.