This is a momentous moment for wildlife enthusiasts, as the only known viable population of white-cheeked crested gibbons have been discovered in the Vietnamese highlands. Conservation International have been working for three years in north-central Vietnam but had never uncovered a population larger than a dozen groups. A year ago, focus changed to Pu Mat National Park, located in northern Vietnam’s Nghe An province, where scientists working with Conservation International scoured the remote jungle landscape before the magical discovery.
The gibbons were tracked through their thundering, elaborate and amplified mating calls. These calls have a purpose – the gibbons are among only 6% of primates who form monogamous partnerships and personalise a song for them, each of which were tracked and identified by the scientists through auditory surveying. The scientists confirmed that there was a population of 130 groups, amounting to an impressive 455 gibbons.
The significance of uncovering these gibbons is decisive for the white-cheeked species, for it triples the species’ total population. As Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and President of Conservation International explains, “This is an extraordinarily significant find, and underscores the immense importance of protected areas in providing the last refuges for the region’s decimated wildlife.” The species was historically found in China and Laos as well as Vietnam, but is now functionally extinct in China and unfortunately largely unknown in Laos.
The white-cheeked crested gibbons join the range of exotic species currently in Vietnam. From pelicans, Indochinese tigers, Indian elephants, green sea turtles and red-shanked douk monkeys, Vietnam has a vibrant array of wildlife. This latest discovery gives great hope for the future of this beautiful primate, with hopes that the groups will thrive alongside the other wild animals unique to Vietnam. As Ben Rawson, regional primate expert for Conservation International, explains, “We are extremely excited about this discovery. Pu Mat was already important for its great diversity of species and for its benefits to the surrounding communities, and now it is a top priority for global gibbon conservation.”
See these beautiful creatures in the wild below – beautiful, aren’t they?