We were happy to read this article by the Arcus Foundation about how scientists have learned that a tiny population of gibbons on China’s southern-most island of Hainan, having escaped the imminent threat of extinction, had actually grown in the last year! Here at Primarily Primates, we provide care and enrichment for four gibbons.
The article explains how the increase from 110 to 130 individuals on the island of Hainan over the past 12 years involved community education and ranger recruitment, provision of fuel-efficient stoves to reduce forest firewood collection, forest restoration and inter-governmental collaboration between Vietnam and China to designate adjoining protected areas. The team, from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Bawangling National Nature Reserve Management Office, had been monitoring the last 25 known Hainan gibbons when they heard a call last summer that led them to a male, a female and a black-tufted baby of four to six months. “The infant shows that this new group has sufficient resources to reproduce,” said the ZSL’s Jessica Bryant, noting that Nomascus hainanus—the Hainan gibbon’s Latin name—is not only the world’s rarest ape but also its rarest mammal. “To be honest, it was amazing,” says Bryant. Weighing in at around 17 pounds , the Hainan gibbon spends its entire life up in the canopy. Males and younger individuals of both sexes have black fur; adult females are a lustrous, orangey gold. Family groups typically comprise a male, two females, and their babies, although several young “solitaries” that haven’t yet found a mate roam the forest alone.