An elusive, noseless monkey that lives in the forested mountains of Myanmar’s Kachin State and China’s Yunnan province is now inching away from the brink of extinction, a new conservation status report by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) says.
The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, known as “snubby” by scientists, had a population of between 260 and 330 when local scientists discovered it in 2010. In 2012, it was classified as critically endangered. Hunting and habitat loss from illegal logging and dam construction were a grave threat to the already tiny population.
Demand for the monkey is not great on the wildlife market, but cccording to people living near the monkey’s habitat, hunting it is particularly easy because it has a tendency to sneeze during rainstorms. The sound gives away its location to hunters. A bag of monkey bones reportedly sells for around US$30 in China.
At least 13 monkeys were killed in 2009, according to local hunters,
However, over the last eight years, intensive awareness campaigns conducted by FFI and cooperation between the Myanmar and Chinese governments to stem the flow of illegal timber and wildlife products over their border have given the snub-nosed monkey a new chance at survival.
Myanmar and China have both established national parks in the areas where the monkey lives, and according to FFI, the parks have been set up with the socioeconomic needs of local human communities in mind.
On top of that, Myanmar’s Forestry Department is working with local communities to delineate a new protected area. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is expected to officially establish it this year.
FFI’s Myanmar program director Frank Momberg said upon the release of the new report: “Protected area designation and trans-boundary collaboration, combined with the active participation of local communities in both biodiversity conservation and sustainable economic development, have drastically improved the chances for the snubby to be saved from the brink of extinction.”