Author: Liam Taylor
Following almost two decades of careful conservation measures, recent evidence suggests Hainan gibbon populations are slowly recovering.
The gibbons live only on the small tropical island of Hainan, which lies off the southern coast of mainland China. Following years of hunting, numbers of the animals fell to just ten individuals during the 1970s.
When a targeted conservation project was established in 2003 by the Kadoorie Conservation China department, just 13 wild gibbons remained on Hainan island living in two separate family groups. These groups were found living in less than ideal habitat that lacked the fruit trees that would usually compose much of the gibbons diet.
Since then, Kadoorie has planted 80,000 fig and lychee trees to link existing habitat patches with the fruiting trees to encourage isolated populations to meet and interact. Numbers of the gibbons on the island have now reached 30, with the project aiming to reach 50, the mark at which they would be deemed “endangered” rather than “critically endangered” according to the IUCN.
“Our biggest goal now is to help expand the gibbons’ territory so the whole species won’t be wiped out if natural disasters occur,” Kadoorie Conservation senior conservation officer Philip Lo Yik-Fui told the South China Morning Post.
A key element of the conservation project has been involving former gibbon hunters, who have excellent understanding of the gibbons’ behaviour and their forest habitat.
“We try and instill a sense of pride in the locals, and the ex-hunters are really satisfied with their work now,” Lo said.
“… now people who were on opposing sides are teammates working together to protect the gibbons.”
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.
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