WWF-Vietnam, GreenViet work to protect primates

The World Wide Fund for Nature-Vietnam (WWF-Vietnam), the Centre of Biodiversity Conservation and GreenViet, will work together on a project to protect the grey-shanked douc langurs in the central Quang Nam province’s Nui Thanh district this year.

GreenViet director Tran Huu Vy said the one-year project would help improve forest patrol skills to protect a herd of grey-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea) – a critically endangered species – living in Tam My Tay commune’s Dong Co village.

The project, with 350 million dong ($15,000) in funding from WWF-Vietnam, will help provide knowledge and skills for a team of 10 volunteers from the village.

“It is a significant effort made by the community to protect the endangered primates. They [local villagers] patrolled the 30ha primary forest area – where the primates live – following irregular visits at nearby log farms.

“We provided equipment, the Spatial Monitoring Reporting Tool [Smart] for conservation and protection of wildlife, data recording during jungle trips over a total of 150ha of the protective zone,” Vy said.

The project, he said, would include improving awareness among the community and illegal hunters on wildlife and protection of biodiversity.

A fire-free zone was set up on a 70ha log farm – a safe habitat for the grey-shanked douc langurs, he added.

Chairman of the provincial people’s committee, Le Tri Thanh, said the province had been seeking a fund of $4.4 million to restore a 100ha area as a safe habitat for the grey-shanked douc langurs.

Currently, the herd of the doucs has gathered in a 10ha area of primary forest due to the development of acacia log farms.

A report by the provincial Forest Protection Division, a herd of about 50 grey-shanked douc langurs was found living in the area in 1997.

The local community and district rangers established a voluntary team to protect the endangered primates from being hunted.

Frankfurt Zoological Society head Dr Ha Thang Long said some 1,000 grey-shanked doucs have been found in forests of five provinces – Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Kon Tum and Gia Lai.

Doucs are native to Southeast Asia and are categorised in three species – red-shanked black-shanked and grey-shanked.

The grey-shanked doucs generally have dappled grey bodies, black hands and feet and white cheeks.

The species is native to the five Vietnamese provinces and feed primarily on leaves.

They live in tribes comprising up to 50 individuals, though individual tribe population numbers have fallen significantly to only four-to-15 individuals in recent years.

Grey-shanked doucs, along with three other primates that are native to Vietnam, have consistently been listed among the world’s 25 most endangered primates since 2000 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group, the International Primatological Society and Conservation International.

The species is also on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, categorised as “critically endangered”, with only 800-1,000 individuals left worldwide.