Never heard of the Hainan gibbon, neither had we till we received this press release today. Unfortunately the population of these endearing creatures has dropped to just 25 individuals and they may become extinct before most of the world even know they exist. They live in 20 square kilometres (7.7 square miles.) of land on Hainan Island off China making them one of the world’s rarest animals.
Luckily the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has released a plan to save the remaining three social groups of these gibbons. The report outlines 40 key actions that need to be completed to boost gibbon numbers and ensure their long term survival. Some strategies include enhanced monitoring systems, the creation of canopy bridges between forest fragments and limiting human disturbance where they live.
Dr Samuel Turvey who co-chaired a major international conservation planning meeting held in Hainan, that drafted the report said, “Ensuring a future for the Hainan gibbon is one of the most important global priorities in mammal conservation. If the right steps are carried out now, it’s not too late to save this incredible species. I hope that the Hainan gibbon will be used in the future as an example of a conservation success story.”
If these gibbons become extinct it would mark the first primate extinction as a result of humans. It is hoped that the report will help people understand the importance of these gibbons and encourage them to take immediate and effective action.
Proffesor Long Yongcheng, head of the IUCN’s China Primate Specialist Group explained this importance, “The Hainan gibbon is an indicator of good forest health and ecological stability, and so protecting the species also helps to conserve Hainan’s environment and its international green image.”
Hunting and loss of their habitat to rubber plantations and logging saw numbers of this species drop from 2,000 in the 1950s to just 30 in the 1980s. Now they are hanging on due to protection through Chinese law. Unfortunately their small population size means it would only take one disease or typhoon to wipe them out. Very soon the morning duets between male and female gibbons may end.
In an effort to get the word out there about the Hainan gibbon theanimalfacts.com is launching #savethegibbon. Now that you have learnt about these beautiful gibbons use the buttons below to share them with your friends using #savethegibbon. The more people who know about these endearing creatures the more people that will want to save them.
Photo Credit: Copyright Jessica Bryant/ ZSL