July 3, 2007—The survival of a subspecies may be riding on these monkeys' backs.
The largest known troop of gray-shanked douc langurs (above left)—among the world's most endangered primates, has been discovered in central Vietnam. (See Vietnam map.)
About a thousand of these tree-dwelling, tangerine-tinted animals, first identified in 1997, are thought to exist. Some live in captivity, such as the douc pictured above (right).
Until the recent expedition, led by a team of WWF and Conservation International scientists, only one other population with more than a hundred individuals had been recorded.
Since the team began the survey in 2005, they have counted at least 116 monkeys—and they estimate about 180 make up the newfound population.
But the scientists have surveyed just a small section of Quang Nam Province—meaning it's possible more endangered monkeys lurk in these forests.
"To put it into a human perspective, this discovery is like finding a new country with over one billion people in it," Ben Rawson, a Conservation International wildlife biologist, said in a statement.
"We now have a much greater opportunity to overcome the very serious threats faced by this species and prevent its disappearance from our planet."
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