Washington, Dec 7 (ANI): A new population of the extremely rare Tonkin snub-nosed monkey has recently been discovered in a remote forested area of northern Vietnam.
According to a report in Science Daily, the monkey, found by Fauna and Flora International (FFI), is called 'snub-nosed' because of its unusual and distinctive up-turned nose.
Believed to be extinct until the late 1980s, only around 200 Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are left in the world.
As a result, the primate is listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.
Unique to Vietnam, the species is now known to be present in just two of Vietnam's northern-most provinces - Tuyen Quang and Ha Giang.
The new finding came about after FFI set out to discover whether any more populations of the rare monkeys existed.
While interviewing communities near the Chinese border last year, it emerged that villagers in the Tung Vai Commune had sighted the strange looking monkeys after seeing rare film footage of them that FFI had supplied to a national television network.
On the strength of these reports, in April 2008, an FFI-led team of biologists managed to observe 15-20 individuals in the nearby forest, including three infants, which was an encouraging sign, indicating that this is a breeding population.
The monkeys were located in a small forest patch in Quan Ba District, Ha Giang Province, near the Chinese border.
While observing this group, the biologists noted that the monkeys were very sensitive to the presence of people, giving warning signs to one another and fleeing the area whenever the team approached.
It was apparent that the monkeys associated humans with danger, perhaps due to ongoing threats from hunters.
During the work, FFI's team managed to take a photo of one member of the new population, capturing a fleeting glimpse of an adult male scampering through the trees.
This is the only photographic evidence of Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys in Quan Ba District.
This new population provides hope for the future of this species, as the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey is now known to survive in no more than five locations in Vietnam, and at some locations the populations are probably in decline.
Local reports indicate that another - possibly larger - group also exists.
According to conservation biologist Le Khac Quyet, this new discovery further underlines the importance of learning more about the Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys' range and distribution.
"There is still time to save this unique species, but with just 200 or so left and threats still strong, we need to act now," Quyet said. (ANI)