The world’s second largest population of the endangered Delacour’slangur primate has recently been discovered by conservation NGO, Fauna & Flora International, giving fresh hope for one of the planet’s rarest species.

Following anecdotal reports of sightings in a once largely unexplored forest in the north of Vietnam, scientists from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Vietnam conducted field assessments to ascertain whether this species does indeed live in the area.

“Our surveys and assessments revealed that there was a population of significant size. We detected seven groups of Delacour’slangur, with the total number of primates in the population as high as 40. Only one other area in Vietnam has a larger population of Delacour’slangur,” FFI Vietnam’s biodiversity technical advisor, Hoang Trinh, said in a statement.

The Delacour’slangur is indigenous to Vietnam, yet because of human activities such as hunting, stone mining and charcoal production, it is currently under severe threat of extinction with fewer than 250 left. Although they remain under grave danger of being wiped out within a decade, scientists now have renewed hope that they can be saved.

“This discovery is good news – both for the species and for the people of Vietnam, particularly because we have also identified a number of infants and juveniles among the groups. This means that they are breeding and, if we can protect them, they should be able to thrive in this habitat once again,” Trinh added.

However, Dr. Benjamin Rawson, country director of FFI Vietnam, warns that urgent interventions to curb negative human activity such as hunting and mining are needed in order to safeguard these prized primates and their habitat.

Speaking from the Congress of the International Primatological Society in Chicago, he said, “We’ve notified the Vietnamese authorities of our findings and recommendations, and we continue to work alongside officials and local communities to ensure the Delacour’slangur doesn’t become this century’s first primate extinction.”

Delacour’slangur (Trachypithecusdelacouri) is a primate endemic to Vietnam, which was first discovered by Jean ThéodoreDelacour in 1930 and described by Wilfred Hudson Osgood in 1932. In the early 1990s, a comprehensive survey recorded 19 isolated sub-populations comprised of 50-57 groups and 281-317 individuals in an area of about 5,000 square kilometers in the north of Vietnam. More recent surveys indicated that the species has experienced a significant decrease in both the number of populations and the number of individuals. In the last decade eight to nine sub-populations have been eradicated.

FFI protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. Operating in more than 50 countries worldwide, FFI saves species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international conservation body and a registered charity.

The FFI Vietnam Program has been active since 1997 and has a strong focus on conserving Vietnam’s threatened primate species and their habitats.

Saigon Times