The hopes of saving the Hainan black crested gibbon are now very slim



by LORENZO CIOTTI

The hopes of saving the Hainan black crested gibbon are now very slim

Hainan black crested gibbon, is a primate belonging to the Hylobatidae family, widespread on the island of Hainan, in China. Not much is known about the rich variety of fauna present within the Chinese territory. In China, and in many other countries of the world, there are numerous animals, many of which are endangered, starting with the Hainan Gibbon.

Endangered species should be safeguarded to protect local wildlife. Of this primate there are only 28 specimens left in the woods of the Fotou Ling mountain, on the tiny Chinese island of Hainan. Due to the scarcity of the population and the narrowness of the range, the IUCN Red List classifies this species as critically endangered.

The greatest dangers for the Gibbon are deforestation and traditional Chinese medicine. In particular, the wild deforestation of the island, necessary to make room for fields and pastures, has significantly reduced the area of the bush inhabited by these primates.

The hopes of saving the Hainan black crested gibbon are now very slim

To this was added traditional Chinese medicine which, by boiling the meat of the Hainan gibbon, obtains a substance considered to be tonic. To these real dangers are added natural ones, such as epidemics and calamities, which could wipe out the number of living specimens in a very short time.

The particular climatic conditions and the morphology of the territory mean that numerous rare and sometimes unknown animals are present throughout the Chinese territory. Most of these animals live in specific areas, such as mountains or certain geographical areas.

Among these we find the Gibbon of the island of Hainan. Like all gibbons of the genus Nomascus, the Hainan gibbon shows clear se*ual dimorphism in color. Males are black while females are gray with a dark patch on the top of the head and chest.

The weight is between 7 and 8 kg. In response to the declining population of Hainan gibbons, a collaborative status survey and conservation plan was published in 2003 and updated in 2005. The survey was backed by members of the Hainanese and mainland Chinese governments, Kadoorie Conservation China, Fauna and Flora International and other international institutions.