Chinese scientists on Tuesday revealed that 15 black-crested
gibbons, a highly endangered species, have been spotted in Nanhua
County of the Chuxiong Autonomous Prefecture of the ethnic Yi group, in southwest China's Yunnan Province.
It is the most northerly point in the world that the black
gibbon has been discovered, according to Dr. Jiang Xuelong, a
gibbon expert with the Kunming Institute of Zoology of Chinese
Academy of Sciences.
The black-crested gibbon is among the 15 most endangered
wildlife species under first-class protection in China.
Before this discovery, black gibbons were only found to inhabit
less than 1,000 square kilometers of area in the world, with their
numbers hovering at about 1,000 individuals.
There are 39 groups or about 200 black gibbons living at high
altitudes in central Yunnan's Chuxiong. Black gibbons mainly live
in western and central areas of Yunnan, north Vietnam and northwest
Laos. The rare species has become extinct in south and southeast
Chinese scientists have found that a gibbon family typically
consists of five members including one male with one or two female
mates. But their eating and breeding habits need to be studied
Scientists report that the distribution area of black gibbons
has shrunk to the southern part of the prefecture over the past six
years which makes the new discovery all the more remarkable.
Human activities in gibbon-inhabited forests, such as pasturing
and foraging for medicinal herbs and wild fungus, are considered
ways to help the poor make a living. But they have also forced
black gibbons to give up their comfortable alpine habitats and move
to low-altitude forests.
Thanks to efforts by the local government to protect the
species, the 32,000-ha Chuxiong black gibbon habitat in the central
part of Yunnan, the largest of its kind in China, has been included
in the country's state-level Ailaoshan Nature Reserve that covers
an area of 66,700 ha.
Local government has called for efforts from villagers living in
the area to improve efforts to protect the animal and its
The province has set up a special fund and hopes to attract
financial aid from home and abroad for cooperative research
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2006)