Endangered monkey's population increases in China

Beijing, Aug 10 (IANS) The number of black snub-nosed monkeys, an endangered species, has increased from 2,000 to over 3,000 since the 1990s, Chinese scientists announced.

The monkeys, known in China as Yunnan golden hair monkeys, are among the world's most endangered primates. They live in the mountainous forests in Yunnan province and Tibet, Xinhua reported.

Of the 18 groups scattered throughout the mountains, most live in the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve established in 1983.

Thanks to protection efforts, the group of 200 monkeys that Long Yongcheng, chief scientist with the Nature Conservancy charitable organisation, encountered during his first forest expedition in 1987 has now grown to over 1,800.

The monkeys were close to extinction in the 1980s because of poaching.

The key to saving the monkeys and their forest homes lies in creating awareness about the animal and helping hunters switch to other livelihoods, said Long.

"We are providing funds and training to help hunters, often the poorest members of the communities, switch to other livelihoods," said Long.

Although the population of the black snub-nosed monkey has increased significantly, environmental degradation and inadequate protection mean they are still endangered, said Xie Hongfang, head of the mountain reserve's administration.

"Local residents have made sacrifices to protect the environment and the endangered species. More compensation and support should be given to them to protect the monkeys," he said.

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