Rare golden monkeys thrive at Chinese world heritage site

Updated: Aug 21, 2023 Xinhua Print
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A photo taken on Nov 19, 2022 shows a rare Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, or Guizhou golden monkey in Southwest China's Mount Fanjingshan region. [Photo/Xinhua]

GUIYANG -- Deep in Southwest China's Mount Fanjingshan region, one of the world's most endangered monkey species enjoys a precious habitat in which it thrives.

Exclusively nestled within the expanse of a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, the rare Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, or Guizhou golden monkey, is under top-level protection in China and is listed as a "critically endangered" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Recent data from the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration shows that the population of these rare monkeys has grown to an estimated number of 700 to 800.

Among the three species of golden snub-nosed monkeys endemic to China, the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey is the one with the smallest population, the narrowest habitat and the least ecological information.

Zhao Jing, a young researcher at the reserve administration, told Xinhua that studying these timid and agile creatures in their natural environment presents challenges, often requiring researchers to exercise patience for days before encountering them.

"To address these challenges, the administration has made substantial investments in equipment, including video surveillance devices, infrared cameras and ultra-low temperature freezers," said Zhao.

Serving as a sanctuary of unparalleled importance for some of the rarest monkeys found anywhere on the planet, the reserve spanning 428 square kilometers in southwest China's Guizhou Province has strengthened investigation and biodiversity research to promote its protection efforts and abilities.

Li Haibo, an official with the administration, said that his team has been working on artificial breeding of Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys for a number of years. From 2018 to 2022, three infants were bred, while the breeding period was shortened from three years to two years.

At present, there are seven captive Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys at the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve. All of them were rescued by the administration after sustaining injuries in the wild.

In recent years, the reserve has also expanded collaborations to enhance scientific support for the protection and research of these monkeys. It established a consulting committee comprised of experts in Guizhou snub-nosed monkey conservation who are from institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Forestry University.

Furthermore, to protect the habitat of the monkeys, the counties near Mount Fanjingshan have started building ecological corridors this year. Trees that the monkeys inhabit and feed on are being planted along these corridors.

"We hope that more will be done to raise people's awareness of Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, and that more and more people will join the efforts to protect these rare creatures," Zhao said.

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