On the Brink of Extinction: Research for Conservation of the Tonkin Snub-Nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Elwyn Simons: A Search for Origins


The Tonkin snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus) is endemic to Vietnam and restricted to a small area in the northern portion of this country. This species was named by Dollman (1912), but very few sightings occurred in the following decades, leading Mittermeier and Cheney (1986:488) to state ‘‘the Vietnamese snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus) from Tonkin may already be extinct. It is known from only a handful of museum specimens collected earlier in this century, and there are no recent reports of it from the wild.’’ While not extinct, it is critically endangered. Nadler et al. (2003) and Mittermeier et al. (2005) report that only three small populations of Tonkin snub-nosed (TSN) monkeys are known, and they consist of less than 300 individuals. Its critical conservation status is reflected by the fact that Cowlishaw and Dunbar (2000), in their influential Primate Conservation Biology text, use the snub-nosed monkeys as the first example of primates in peril of extinction, stating that of the four Rhinopithecus species, the TSN monkey is the most endangered. Populations in Na Hang and Cham Chu were first identified in the early 1990s and as outlined below, are severely threatened by human activities. The third population occurs in Khau Ca adjacent to the Du Gia Nature Reserve, Ha Giang Province and was initially confirmed to exist in this region by one of us in 2002 (Le Khac Quyet, 2002). Here we provide the most detailed review of the research and conservation history to date, and the efforts that we are making to conserve and study the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey in Khau Ca.



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World Scientific Publishing, Leaf Monkey, Proboscis Monkey, Trail System, Rhinopithecus Roxellana