Growing deforestation is threatening endangered monkeys in Vietnam
With big almond shaped eyes, a circle of white whiskers and a distinctive orange ring running across its forehead and below the neck, the Grey-shanked doucs are seen as mascots for their fellow endangered primates. The species is easily distinguished from other douc primates due to its grey legs, back and crown and long, white tail which spans the length of its body.
This monkey is native to the central highlands of Vietman and as it is found only here, it is commonly known as Vietnam’s monkey.
The grey-shanked douc is at risk due to deforestation in its natural habitat and it is considered to be one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates.
Unfortunately the situation in which we find these Grey-shanked doucs is seemingly common in Vietnam, which is said to have more endangered primates than any other in the world, of 25 known species, 11 of them will likely be extinct in the next 20 years.
In the past seven years, the central highlands has lost 14% of its total forest cover, a result of the growing infrastructure and the extensive highway building, which looks to connect once removed villages and communities in Vietnam.
Recently, a herd of 500 doucs living in a remote part of the country was discovered, for a population which was previously believed to only be 800 strong, this is great news for the fight against extinction. Trinh Dinh Hoang, who let the discovery team, stated that “to discover a large population of one of Vietnam’s most rare and precious animals is truly an honour.”
The grey-shanked doucs are occasionally hunted for their use in traditional Vietnamese medicine, where the bones are used to make a cream called “monkey bone balm” which is used for treating lack of appetite, insomnia, and anaemia.
Experts also say that the Vietnam War had a large impact on the population of these monkeys as soldiers used the animals for target practice in between battles.
Scientists and environmental activists urge that the need to succeed in protecting these primates is extreme, “if one primate disappears here, the whole world loses it.”