A snub-nosed monkey crouches in a mountain jungle in northern Myanmar (Burma) this past spring in one of several pictures of the species released this week. The photos are said to be the first ever of live snub-nosed monkeys.
"I did not expect us to get anything," said FFI wildlife photographer Jeremy Holden.
But the fourth camera Holden and his team checked contained a blurry picture of a monkey—and a camera set higher in the jungle captured the above image.
"Most people are disappointed in the quality" of the photograph, a detail of which is shown above. "But in my mind, the monkey looking like a small gargoyle in the corner of the frame is one of the best pictures I've ever got," Holden said.
Another camera-trap picture shows snub-nosed monkeys carrying infants.
These pictures "confirm observations from local hunters that the snub-nosed monkey species do come to the ground, especially in summer to eat bamboo shoots," Frank Momberg, FFI's Myanmar program director, said by email.
"Not only does this photo confirm the presence of the species alive in the wild, but also that the population is reproducing, which is good news for the future of this population."
Only about 300 snub-nosed monkeys (pictured, an individual caught by camera trap) are thought to remain in the wild, conservationists say.
Though the species' habitat is now mostly pristine jungle, logging for high-value trees is taking place not far from where the camera traps were set, FFI's Momberg said.
The Myanmar Forest Department supports the idea of designating a new national park, but "this process requires time, while logging needs to stop as soon as possible," he added.
Even if logging is not directly affecting the monkeys' habitats, the loggers' roads "allow easy access for hunters," noted photographer Holden.
The monkeys are also at risk of being hunted and sold for traditional Chinese medicine, he said, though they are currently less valuable than the commonly hunted macaque. Snub-nosed monkeys are also known to have been killed for food.
Another snub-nosed monkey and her baby travel the jungle. Little is known about the species, especially because its population is spread out over a relatively wide range.
However, the animals are easy to find in a rainstorm, since their upturned noses catch water and cause them to sneeze.
Momberg added that, after a conservation-awareness program was held for villagers in December, "local people now feel proud of harboring this newly discovered, rare primate, and said they would stop hunting" the monkey.
FFI will be offering small village-development grants to communities that sign agreements to conserve the snub-nosed monkeys and their habitat.
"We have our ears on the ground [to monitor] whether the hunting really stops."
Besides snubbys, the camera traps also captured red pandas, tufted deer, and this takin, a rare Himalayan hoofed mammal, which was photographed for the first time in Myanmar.
The tufted deer was previously thought to have been extinct in the country, since previous camera-trap expeditions had failed to locate the species. But it turns out the animals are quite common in Myanmar, Holden said.
The takin, on the other hand, is very elusive and is restricted to a small range in the Himalayas.
Still, the takin was easier to catch on camera than the monkeys. That's because Holden was able to set a camera trap near a set of takin tracks.
"Takin don't climb about in trees, and they have habitual trails. The monkeys can go wherever they want."