​Vietnamese province plans to buy forest land to expand habitat for endangered douc langurs

Gray-shanked douc langur, commonly known as ‘costumed ape,’ is one of the endangered douc species native to Vietnam

A gray-shanked douc in its natural habitat. Photo: GreenViet

Local authorities in Quang Nam are considering buying off privately owned forests to make home for an endangered group of gray-shanked douc langurs in the central Vietnamese province.

Gray-shanked douc langur, commonly known as “costumed ape,” is a douc species native to such Vietnamese provinces as Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Kon Tum, and Gia Lai, and one of the most endangered in the world.

Hon Do Mountain, located in Tam My Tay, a village in Nui Thanh District of Quang Nam, is currently home to at least two families of gray-shanked douc, consisting of some 20 individuals.

The apes live in a narrow forest land of about ten hectares atop the rocky mountain.

The animals’ habitat is surrounded by vast wattle plantations by local people, with the nearest natural forests located three to ten kilometers away.

“Their survival is being threatened by the shortage of food, habitat, unfavorable weather, severe hunting, and wildfires,” claimed representatives of GreenViet, a an organization working to save Vietnam's biodiversity, after a field trip to the area.

GreenViet thus suggested expanding the current habitat for the ‘costumed apes’ by 80-100 hectares.

Local authorities may purchase part of the nearby wattle forest land to make space for the expansion, Le Tri Thanh, chairman of the Quang Nam administration, said at a meeting on Thursday, after being briefed of the field trip survey by GreenViet.

Thanh said Quang Nam authorities acknowledge the necessity of protecting the endangered apes, as well as coming up with long-term solutions to preserve their natural habitat.

Besides the narrow habitat, the survivor of the gray-shanked douc langur population in Tam My Tay is also being endangered as they live too close to an industrial area in Nui Thanh, Thanh added.

“One of the solutions to this problem is to buy off privately owned forests in the area to guarantee spacious habitat for the gray-shanked douc langur,” said the chairman.

There are currently around 500 gray-shanked doucs left in Vietnam. The animal is listed in IUCN Red List as one of the 25 most endangered apes in the world.

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