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Science Fiction & Fantasy => King Kong, Gigantopithecus & the Mountain Gorilla => Topic started by: Valerie on January 28, 2012, 04:09:35 pm

Title: Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park
Post by: Valerie on January 28, 2012, 04:09:35 pm
Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park
Seeing rare species "was a very emotional moment," scientist says.


A brown spider monkey.

A brown spider monkey seen in the Colombian park.

Photograph courtesy WCS

Christine Dell'Amore

National Geographic News

Published January 27, 2012

A new population of one of the world's rarest primates—the brown spider monkey (Ateles hybridus)—has been found in Colombia's Selva de Florencia National Park, conservationists announced this week.

During a recent survey, scientists found the brown spider monkey subspecies A. hybridus brunneus living within the park. (Also see "First Pictures: Live Snub-Nosed Monkeys Caught on Camera.")

That subspecies and another, A. hybridus hybridus, were previously known to live on either side of the Magdalena River, which passes through Selva de Florencia.

Considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the brown spider monkey has declined in its north South American range by at least 80 percent over the past 45 years, due mostly to hunting and habitat loss.

Based on the new survey, the scientists estimate that fewer than 30 individuals of A. hybridus brunneus exist per 0.4 square mile (1 square kilometer) of the park, according to Nestor Roncancio of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Latin America and Caribbean Program, who was on the expedition that found the monkeys.

The other subspecies wasn't found in the park during the recent survey.

Finding Monkeys an "Emotional Moment"

When the national park was formed in 2005, there had been no recent sightings of brown spider monkeys, and the species was considered locally extinct.

The region's rough landscape and history of armed conflicts made it difficult to conduct more extensive surveys, Roncancio said by email.

But in November 2011, a local farmer reported seeing a brown spider monkey—spurring scientists to organize a short expedition to find the species. (Also see "Rare 'Smiling' Bird Photographed in Colombia.")

"We were very surprised because, despite believing it was possible that the monkey was there, we knew it would be very unlikely to see it on such a short trip and due to the difficult terrain," Roncancio said.

"This was a very emotional moment."

The newfound population is the southernmost in the brown spider monkey's range and the only group of the species living in a protected area.

Roncancio and colleagues are now developing a conservation plan to protect the primates across their range.

Title: Re: Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park
Post by: Valerie on January 28, 2012, 04:11:37 pm

"Extinct" Monkey

Photograph courtesy Eric Fell

A Miller's grizzled langur pauses while drinking water from a mineral spring, or sepan, in 2011. Feared extinct, the monkey species has been "rediscovered" on the Indonesian island of Borneo, a new study says.

Scientists stumbled onto several of the primates last year during a biodiversity survey of the Wehea Forest, a 98,000-acre (40,000-hectare) habitat in Indonesia's East Kalimantan Province (map). Previously known to live only in a small area along East Kalimantan's central coast, the Wehea discovery extends the species' range.

Numbers of the 13-pound (6-kilogram) langur—known for its white, bristly beard and sideburns—had declined in the animal's coastal habitat due to deforestation, hunting, and large human-caused fires in the 1990s. Later surveys turned up no evidence of the monkey.

"I've been working [in Wehea] for four years—I study primates, and I've never seen it" until now, said study co-author Stephanie Spehar, a primatologist at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh. "The fact we found it did come as a big surprise to all of us."

Particularly exciting was that an independent survey team led by study co-author Brent Loken of Ethical Expeditions simultaneously spotted the langurs in another part of the forest. This suggests there are at least two healthy populations and not just an isolated group, said Spehar, whose study appears this month in the American Journal of Primatology.

"We were thrilled when we met up and showed each other our photos," she said.

(See pictures: "25 Most Endangered Primates Named [2007].")

—Christine Dell'Amore

Published January 20, 2012

Title: Re: Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park
Post by: Valerie on January 28, 2012, 04:12:45 pm

Langurs on Alert

Photograph courtesy Eric Fell

A group of Miller's grizzled langurs, including a mother and her baby, scan the scene around the Indonesian mineral spring.

"Coming to the ground to drink can be a dangerous proposition for a [tree-dwelling] primate, as it makes them more vulnerable to predators," Spehar said.

"This may be why they spend so much time sitting in the trees around the sepan—they are cautiously surveying the scene before they descend to the ground."

(Also see "Photos: 'Elvis Monkey,' Cloning Lizard Among New Mekong Species.")

Published January 20, 2012

Title: Re: Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park
Post by: Valerie on January 28, 2012, 04:12:51 pm

Title: Re: Near-Extinct Monkeys Found in Colombian Park
Post by: Valerie on January 28, 2012, 04:15:48 pm

Grounded Monkeys

Photograph courtesy Brent Loken

Several of the "rediscovered" langurs gather at the sepan, including one seen drinking water in the foreground. Spehar and colleagues saw up to 11 langurs at one time—the primates generally live in groups of between 6 and 12 individuals, with just one male per group.

"We still have much work to do to better understand the extent of this population—where else it is found in the region; how large the population is; aspects of its behavior, which have not been comprehensively studied; and, most importantly, we also have to work to make sure that the area in which it is found is protected," Spehar said.

The Wehea Forest is temporarily protected by an indigenous group and the local government, but it's surrounded on almost all sides by logging concessions, she noted.

(See blog post: "Hard-Won Battles Against Illegal Logging are Paying Off.")

Published January 20, 2012