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article imageUrgent action needed immediately to save Gibbons say experts

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 25, 2010 in Environment
Kyoto - Crested Gibbons are the world's least known-about apes, and they are also the world's most endangered apes. Renowned Gibbon expert Thomas Geissmann has called for 'urgent action' to save the seven species of Crested Gibbon.
Geissmann called for action during the XXIII Congress of the International Primatological Society, held in Kyoto according to a press release issued September 17 by Flora & Fauna International. Geissmann said “The crested gibbons are the most threatened group of primates and all species require urgent attention to save them from extinction."
During the conference, Geissmann pointed to the world's rarest Gibbon, the Hainan. Currently there are thought to be only 20 of the Hainan Gibbons remaining, living in two groups on Hainan Island, China.
However, there are seven species of crested gibbons, and all are "highly threatened, and some are among the world’s most endangered mammals" said Flora & Fauna International. "... Several species have declined drastically over the past decade due to hunting and habitat loss caused mainly by rapid economic development."
One of those endangered Crested Gibbon species was only recently identified by German Scientists. Scientists from the German Primate Center recently announced their discovery reported AFP. The Germans said this new species is just as endangered as the other six, and attribute the fragile status of the apes to human predation. Gibbons are favoured as food and pets, and are also killed to make traditional medicines.
The German Primate Center has already named the newly discovered species the northern buffed-cheeked gibbon, or Nomascus annamensis. A press release from the Center states the ape was distinguished as a new species because of its vocalizations.
Crested Gibbons are found only in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and China. The monogamous apes are difficult to study as they live in tree tops in the mountain jungles of eastern Asia.
At least two species of Crested Gibbon are at less risk of extinction, but scientists call for increased funding to help protect all species, as well as study the little known ape. Another species, closely related to the Chinese Hainan Gibbon, the Cao Vit, has remained stable at around 100 individuals after Flora & Fauna International persuaded Vietnam to establish a Cao Vit Conservation Area. China recently designated the forest abutting the Vietnamese conservation area as a nature reserve.
Gibbons, like Gorillas, Orangutans, Bonobos and Chimpanzees, are also very closely related to humans, but are referred to as "lesser apes."
Conserving habitat and protecting the apes from being hunted are the keys to saving the Crested Gibbons. Flora & Fauna International accepts donations to assist with their ongoing work to protect Crested Gibbons in Vietnam.
There is also an established organization in Vietnam, the Endangered Primate Rescue Center.
Geissmann is a world-renowned gibbon expert based with Zurich University. He also acts as the Gibbon Advisor to Flora & Fauna International.
Flora & Fauna International is the world's first international conservation organization, founded in 1903. The organization has "... over 100 projects in nearly 40 countries, mostly in the developing world." The organization is focused on "... biodiversity and aim to show just how relevant it is to all of those who share the planet."
More about Gibbons, Endangered species, Crested gibbons, Flora fauna international
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