Survey in Vietnam records highest number of Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys to date
Rare reversal of decline in unique species is cause for celebration
by Ally Catterick
A survey conducted in Ha Giang Province in Vietnam between September and October this year has recorded the highest number of Critically Endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys known to date.
The Management Board of the protected area, known as Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area, announced that between 108 – 113 of the distinctive looking primate were recorded at the site.
Previously the highest recorded number for the protected area was approximately 90 individuals, suggesting the population is recovering.The survey was led by Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Vietnam Primate Programme Biologist, Nguyen Van Truong, and assisted by locally based community conservation teams and the University of Colorado Boulder’s research assistant team…
An adult female Dusky Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus), also known as the Spectacled Langur, with an offspring in tow. The baby’s fur color is strikingly different from that of its mother. I was fortunate to be able to observe and photograph this pair, part of a troupe of monkeys, from some distance away.
Shot at the highland forests of Bukit Tinggi, central Peninsular Malaysia.
Music & Monkeys: Monkey-Human Ancestors Got Music 30 Million Years Ago
by Jennifer Viegas
Music skills evolved at least 30 million years ago in the common ancestor of humans and monkeys, according to a new study that could help explain why chimpanzees drum on tree roots and monkey calls sound like singing.
The study, published in the latest issue of Biology Letters, also suggests an answer to this chicken-and-egg question: Which came first, language or music? The answer appears to be music.
"Musical behaviors would constitute a first step towards phonological patterning, and therefore language," lead author Andrea Ravignani told Discovery News…
Old Stone Tools Add Twist to the Extinction of Madagascar’s Megafauna
by Brian Switek
Madagascar is an natural wonder, brimming with creatures that have evolved in the island’s “splendid isolation.” But Madagascar’s endemic fauna was even more spectacular in the not-too-distant past. The island is now devoid of the enormous elephant birds, giant lemurs, dwarfed hippos, and other unusual animals that lived there. They disappeared so recently, only about one thousand years ago, that their remains are referred to as “subfossils.”
How and why they were wiped out is a matter of contention, often seen as a catastrophic decline in the wake of human arrival, but a new archaeological find suggests that the downfall of Madagascar’s megafauna was a more protracted disaster.
Compared to our distant primate relatives, people haven’t occupied Madagascar for very long. The ancestors of today’s lemurs are thought to have arrived by rafting from mainland Africa around 50 to 60 million years ago, whereas the oldest known human villages only go back to around A.D. 500. Within a thousand years of these villages becoming established, every endemic species on the island over 10 kilograms was driven into extinction. Hunting, the use of fire, the spread of agriculture across the island, and other causes have been proposed without consensus, but the connection between humans and extinction is unmistakable…
Some Monkeys Have Conversations That Resemble Ours
by Brandon Keim
The sounds of marmoset monkeys chattering may hint at the mysterious origins of human language.
A new study shows that marmosets exchange calls in a precisely timed, back-and-forth fashion typical of human conversation, but not found in other primates. The monkeys don’t appear to have a language, but the timing suggests the foundations of our own.
“That could be the foundation of more sophisticated things, like syntax,” said psychologist Asif Ghazanfar of Princeton University, co-author of the study, which was published today in Current Biology. “You can’t have any of those other really cool aspects of language without first having this.”…
Two New Additions to Brazilian Reserve Help Protect Rare Birds, Critically Endangered Monkey
ABC media release
Two new properties totaling about 237 acres (96 hectares) have been added to the Brazilian Serra Bonita Reserve, expanding protections for six rare birds, a critically endangered monkey, the yellow-breasted capuchin, and a wide diversity of flora and additional fauna, including 330 bird species. Another measure of the conservation value of the region was illustrated in the 1990s when a world record of 458 tree species was counted in an area the size of a football field.
The acquisition of the two parce ls was a joint effort involving three conservation organizations—American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Instituto Uiraçu, and Rainforest Trust (formerly called World Land Trust–US). Funding for the purchase was provided by these groups, in addition to the Robert Wilson Charitable Trust and other private individuals and groups.
The reserve is located in the Serra Bonita Mountain Range, which is one of the last remnants of moist submontane Atlantic rainforest in southern Bahia. This range covers an area of approximately 18,525 acres (7,500 hectares), located in the municipalities of Camacan and Pau Brazil, about 80 miles (130 km) from the port city of Ilhéus on the Atlantic Coast…
Titi Monkeys Make Specific Calls For Each Predator
by Virginia Morrell
Many mammals and birds make noisy calls when predators lurk nearby. Now, researchers have discovered that black-fronted titi monkeys (Callicebus nigrifrons) emit alarm calls that are remarkably versatile for primates, simultaneously announcing the type of predator and its location.
To find out what the monkeys were conveying, scientists conducted experiments in Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest with a stuffed raptor and cat. When the titi monkeys saw the raptor in the trees, they uttered a series of calls that mean “Raptor! Tree!” But when the monkeys discovered it on the ground, they mixed the calls: “Raptor! Ground!” Similarly, when they noticed a stuffed cat that the scientists placed on the ground, the monkeys warned: “Cat! Ground!” …
New program to Assist Animals on the Brink Across SE Asia
by Lacey Avery
Organizations within the international conservation community are joining forces to minimize impending extinctions in Southeast Asia, where habitat loss, trade and hunting have contributed to a dramatic decline in wildlife. The coalition is aptly named ASAP, or the Asian Species Action Partnership.
“ASAP began as a response to alarming results revealed in a 2008 comprehensive assessment for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” Rachel Roberts, International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) network coordination officer, told mongabay.com.
The assessment revealed a heavy concentration of threatened mammals in Southeast Asia with similar trends observed for other animals. In response, interested conservation organizations came together in a joint call for action…
Boa Constrictor Seen Eating Howler Monkey in a First
by Douglas Main
If a snake eats a monkey in the forest and no one sees it, does it make a difference?
New evidence suggests that it does.For the first time, scientists have witnessed a boa constrictor attacking and eating a howler monkey. The finding, and boa-eating-monkey video, is noteworthy since reports of primates being eaten by predators are relatively rare, according to the study, published this month in the journal Primates.
"This may cause us to rethink how vulnerable [these] primates are to predation," said Paul Garber, a primatologist at the University of Illinois, who wasn’t involved in the study...
Also known as Dollman’s snub-nosed monkey, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey is a critically endangered species of colobine monkey that is endemic to northern Vietnam. Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys life in five isolated populations that inhabit limestone hills, evergreen forests and mountains. They are diurnal and live on a diet of leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds. Foraging will usually be done in the tree tops but they will forage on the ground as well.
Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are listed as critically endangered and face major threats due to habitat loss and hunting. Currently only 200-250 individuals are known to exist.
Male Barbary Macaques, Macaca sylvanus, participate in rearing the young. Males may spend a considerable amount of time playing with and grooming infants. In this way, a strong social bond is formed between males and juveniles. Males take care of both their own offspring and those of others in the troop.
Increased human activity and infrastructure needed for oil extraction within Virunga could lead to habitat degradation and place the park’s #gorillas at significantly increased vulnerability to poaching.
Congo’s rare mountain gorillas could become victims of oil exploration
WWF warns of environmental disaster and permanent conflict if British firm begins drilling for oil inside Virunga national park
by John Vidal
The Virunga national park, home to rare mountain gorillas but targeted for oil exploration by a British company, could earn strife-torn DR Congo $400m (£263m) a year from tourism, hydropower and carbon credits, a WWF report published on Thursday concludes.
But if the Unesco world heritage site that straddles the equator is exploited for oil, as the Congolese government and exploration firm Soco International are hoping, it could lead to devastating pollution and permanent conflict in an already unstable region, says the conservation body.
Congo has allocated oil concessions over 85% of the Virunga park but Soco International is now the only company seeking to explore inside its boundaries. This year Unesco called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits…
In the forests of southern Madagascar, scientists have discovered a new type of dwarf lemur. But the previously unknown species may already be on its way to extinction; researchers’ initial estimates suggest there could be fewer than 50 individuals left in the wild.
Lemurs are primates that are only found on Madagascar, a large island off the eastern coast of Africa known for its rich biodiversity and unique creatures. The newly described Lavasoa dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus lavasoensis) has so far only been found in three isolated forests on the island, researchers say…