Saturday, 30 August 2008

Group discovers large threatened monkey populations in Cambodia

Black-shanked Douc

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — There are "surprisingly large" populations of two globally threatened monkey species in a protected area in Cambodia, a conservation group said Friday.

The US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in a study of Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the group said.

"At present all evidence does suggest that Cambodia has the largest populations in the world of both the black-shanked douc and the yellow-cheeked crested gibbon," Edward Pollard, a WCS scientist who worked on the census in the northeastern protected area, told AFP.

The two populations started to recover in 2002 when the Cambodian government established the Seima conservation area, and numbers have remained stable since 2005, said WCS in a statement.

Before the recent discovery, the largest known populations were believed to be in adjacent Vietnam, where black-shanked douc langurs and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons hover at 600 and 200 respectively, WCS said.

"The total population of the two species remains unknown," the organisation said.

WCS attributed the Cambodian monkey boon to several factors, including successful management of the area, cessation of logging activities and a nationwide gun confiscation programme implemented in the 1990s.

However the group warned the protected area is still at risk from growing plantations and commercial mining operations.

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