Golden monkey of china
Chinese children are very familiar with the legend of a magical monkey called "Sunwukong" (Monkey King), who helps the weak with kindness, and fights evil with justice. But the real monkeys are fighting mankind for their own survival. There are three species of Golden Monkeys who all live in the forests of China, with some species in the mountains.
The Golden Monkey
Common names: Golden Thread Monkey, Sichuan Snub-nosed Monkey, (or snub nosed langur), Golden Monkey.
Scientific name: Pygathrix roxellana
2004 is the Year of the Monkey
The Chinese are searching for better, safer ways to preserve this mascot of good luck. To this end, the Golden monkey has been placed under top state protection. It is hoped that the Year of the Monkey on the Chinese lunar calendar, which began this year on Jan. 22 of the Gregorian calendar, will improve the monkey’s chances for survival.
Snub-Nosed Monkeys in China
Yunnan snub-nosed monkey Snub-nosed monkeys (also known as snub-nosed langurs) are able to survive in cold temperatures better than any other primate. They live in areas that are covered in snow as much as half of the year; endure winters with sub zero temperatures; and live at elevations up to 4,500 meters, although during the winter they usually descend to lower elevations.
Snub-nosed monkeys have a head and body length between 51 and 67 centimeters and a tail length of 51 to 97 centimeters. They spend most of their time in trees but come to ground for some feeding and social activities. If threatened they can race through the upper levels of the canopy at great speeds.
Snub-nosed monkeys are among the most endangered primate species in Asia. They have been hunted for centuries for their pelts and body parts, for Chinese medicine. The Manchu valued their pelage which was believed to ward off rheumatism. There are only a few hundred or a few thousand left of each species.
Snub-Nosed Monkey Behavior
Yunnan snub-nosed monkey Snub-nosed monkeys primarily eat leaves, grass, lichens, bamboo shoots, buds and fruit. They cover between 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters a day when they forage. Group of 100 and even 600 have been observed but a typical group has a single male, three to five females and their young. Dominant males sometimes fight with rivals who want to claim their females.
Males usually reach sexual maturity when they are seven; females when they are four or five. Birth usually take place in the spring or summer after a 200 day gestation period. Usually one, sometimes two, young are born.
Groups claim a temporary territory of four to 50 square kilometers and change every month. If two different groups meet they usually avoid a conflict and head in different directions. The most frequent vocalization, “ga-ga,” is shrieked out loudly when a food source is found.
Species of Snub-Nosed Monkeys in China
Guizhou snub nose monkey There are three main mountain species of snub-nosed monkey: the black snub-nosed monkey; the Yunnan snub-nose monkey; and the Sichuan golden snub-nose monkey. There is another species that lives in the lowlands; the Guizhou snub-nose monkey. The pig-tailed snub-nose monkey, Guizhou snub-nose monkey, and black snub-nose monkey are endangered.
The Yunnan snub-nose monkey has predominately black shoulders. It lives in temperate mountain forests from 3,000 to 4,000 meters, an environment with snow and below freezing temperatures for several months a year.
Black snub-nosed monkeys lives in the highest elevations of any non-human primate: in high mountain forest up to 4,500 meters on a single mountain in the Nujang Lancang Gorge region of Guizhou in China. Males average 15 to 17 kilograms, females average 9 to 12 kilograms. They have a head body length of 74 to 83 centimeters and a tail length of 51 to 72 centimeters.
Black snub-nosed monkeys spend a lot of time in high evergreen trees. They feed on lichens, leaves, grass and fruit. Their pelt was once valued as a remedy for rheumatism. Today they have suffered from loss of habitat as a reuslt of logging. There are believed to be only between 800 and 1,200 left.
Golden Monkeys in China
Golden monkey Snub-nosed monkeys are sometimes called golden monkeys. An estimated 4,000 to 10,000 golden monkeys survive in six provinces of China. The fur for these monkeys was once so highly valued that only the highest officials were allowed to wear it. They have been protected since 1957 but their numbers are falling as a result of loss of habitat.
There are three subspecies of golden monkey. The Yunnan Golden Monkey is one of the most threatened species in China. It lives in virgin forests in the mountains southeast of the Tibetan Plateau. The Sichuan golden snub-nose monkey has orange shoulders, a white muzzle and a blue nose. It lives in mixed bamboo, conifer and deciduous forests up to 3,150 meters.
Golden snub-nosed monkeys live in the high, cold forests of Sichuan, Gansu, Hubei and Shanxi Province, their habitat often overlapping with that of giant pandas. Deep snow and bitterly cold temperatures are common throughout their habitat in the winter. To stay warm the monkeys huddle together on the branches of trees.
Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys are rarely seen and were thought to be extinct in the 1960s
Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys spend most of their time in conifer forest at an elevation of around meters but occasionally they climb down to lower elevations to look for food in the broadleaf forests. Lichens stripped from the bark of spruce and fir trees are their main sources of food. Photographer Xi Zhinong told National Geographic, “I found out these monkeys have highways of their own. They always jump from one tree to another at the same spot.”
Efforts to Save the Golden Monkeys in China
Golden monkey In 1995, 40 square miles of virgin rainforest, where golden monkeys live, in Deqin county in Yunnan was sold to logging companies whose environmental impact studies failed to even mention the monkeys. Of the 1,000 Yunnan golden monkeys that remain in the wild about 200 of them live in the Dequin forest. The main timber company involved in deal only sold enough timber to pay about half of its operating costs with the government subsidizing the rest.
China's golden monkeys, a rare species more endangered than giant pandas, have made a surprising comeback with populations quadrupling in the past two decades.
The snub-nosed monkeys, which are found only in southwestern Guizhou province, have risen in number from 200 in the early 1980s to around 800.
Despite its growing numbers, the animal is still endangered.
Poaching and forest fires are two of the main causes for the decrease in population, according to Yang Yeqin, director of Guizhou's Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, where most of the monkeys live.
The gregarious animals are also vulnerable to human diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera and measles. Researchers believe that the number of the snub-nosed monkeys would not rise rapidly even if their habitats were enlarged. However, the numbers would drop dramatically if their habitats dwindled, which may lead to their extinction, said the researchers.
Wildlife experts said the animals' living space must be extended, monitoring and protection of their environment must be strengthened and a breeding base should be established to save the animals.
Efforts to Save the Species
Attempts at artificial breeding of Golden Monkeys have encountered many difficulties. In Kunming Institute of Zoology, almost all the 10 monkeys born in the past decade were male, which scientists could not explain. Perhaps not surprisingly, researchers have discovered that the best place to protect them is not in laboratories or breeding centers, but in their natural habitats.