A survey conducted in northern Ha Giang province, beginning in September, determined that 108 to 113 Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus avunculus) are living in the Khau Ca Species and Habitat Conservation Area.

This is the highest number of Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys recorded in the area to date. Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are a critically endangered species, and it is estimated that there are only 200-250 Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys worldwide.

The area's management board previously announced that the highest recorded number for the protected area was approximately 90 monkeys, suggesting the population is recovering.

The survey was led by Fauna and Flora International (FFI)'s 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.

Ongoing conservation at this site is believed to be vital to the continuation of this species.

Hoang Van Tue, Chief of Conservation for the provincial Forest Protection Department, said the conservation of the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey in Khau Ca is the result of the combined effort of the provincial Forest Protection Department and international organisations.

Tue noted that discovering newborn monkeys during the survey was an encouraging sign for the future of the species.

Meanwhile, Dr Benjamin Rawson, regional Primate Programme Manager for FFI, said "To date, this represents one of the few examples of a reversal in decline of one of Vietnam's Critically Endangered species, and demonstrates that with the commitment of Vietnamese authorities and involvement of local communities, wildlife population declines can be reversed."

Also, Jake Brunner from the International Union for Conservation of Nature said, "This news confirms the importance of Khau Ca as the stronghold of the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, caring for half of the global population."

A key next step is for the provincial government to provide additional financing to this area to make protection of this population a sustainable long-term proposition, he said.-VNA