Authorities in Vietnam’s Quang Ngai Province are investigating the killing of five gray-shanked douc langurs, one of the world’s most critically endangered species, by suspected poachers in a local forest.
The dead langurs, weighing five to 15kg, were found last week in a forest in the central province’s Ba To District by a patrol team including rangers and police officers, local authorities reported on Monday.
A group of suspected poachers ran away as soon as the team approached them, leaving behind a motorbike, 53 lead bullets, and silencers next to the five dead animals, said the district’s forest protection station.
“Through visual observation, we can determine the dead animals were gray-shanked douc langurs," said Ngo Vinh Phong, the station’s head.
"We have frozen them and coordinated with authorities to track down the group of hunters.”
The station has also sent the samples of the killed langurs out for testing to form a basis for investigation and prosecution.
Ba To rangers have recently arrested and prosecuted two locals who shot dead two lorises, also listed as ‘critically endangered,' the station said, adding that the case will be heard soon.
Gray shanked douc langurs often live in the Truong Son (Anamite Range) Forest in the provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Kon Tum, and Gia Lai, Phong said.
As one of the 25 most threatened primate species in the world, gray shanked douc langurs are categorized as ‘critically endangered’ in Vietnam’s Red Book and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species.
This primate species, classified ‘critically endangered’ by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has an estimated population of 550 to 700 around the world.
There are three species of douc langurs, including gray-shanked, black-shanked, and red-shanked doucs, which are threatened mainly by habitat loss and hunting, WWF said.
The forests that are home to douc langurs are disappearing due to logging and agricultural conversion while these species are often hunted for food, for sale as pets, or for use in traditional medicine, the agency elaborated.