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Rare Gibbons Found in SW China
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Chinese researchers announced yesterday that they'd discovered 17 wild black crested gibbons, a highly endangered species that was once even declared extinct in the 1950s, in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

After more than two months of work the researchers spotted the gibbons in three groups in the Bangliang forest area of Jingxi County.

"Sightings of the gibbons show that forest ecology has improved significantly in Guangxi and that local people have become more positive in protecting wild animals," said Zhou Fang, an animal expert with Guangxi University, who participated in the investigation. 

Sightings of the animal in Guangxi brought the total number of black crested gibbons in the world to around 50. In 2002 about 30 were found in Cao Bang of Vietnam.

The animals used to live in tropical forests in northern Vietnam and Guangxi. Their population dropped drastically due to poaching and the destruction of their habitat.

The animal is 50 to 60 centimeters in height with forearms as long as its body. The male gibbon is black from head to toe while the female is golden with a tuft of black hair on top of the head.

Luo Yongkui, deputy head of the regional forestry bureau, said that a special protection zone would be set up to protect the animals and their habitat. And efforts would be intensified to crack down on poaching and the lighting of fires in the area.

Guangxi is home to 8,354 kinds of higher plants and 848 varieties of land vertebrates, 25 of which are under top state protection.

(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2006)

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