Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little-Known Apes Facing Extinction

The title of the article below caught my attention, but as it turned out the "world's least known apes" were not sasquatches after all.  They were crested gibbons.   It must have been a coincidence that the gibbon was depicted in a tree in a bipedal pose.

Being a fan of everything ape, I read the article with an eye out for issues that would similarly affect sasquatches.  As it turns out, the crested gibbon is being threatened by hunting (which clearly doesn't affect the sasquatch population) and deforestation (which clearly could threaten the squatch).  

The parallels between the gibbon's plight and that of the other apes is starkly clear.  Deforestation is the number one threat to great apes.  

Perhaps this same issue will threaten the North American sasquatch population.  Perhaps it threatens the population right now, but nobody knows because the creatures still remain in the realm of myth.  Either way, there is something you can do about it.  I call it "Conservation Before Discovery."  

This idea of Conservation Before Discovery is simply being aware of land conservation issues, and casting your political votes accordingly.  Take the opportunity to write an email to your representatives encouraging them to pass measures to protect vast tracts of land.  Encourage them to pass legislation protecting wild areas and wild animals.  Notify them that you care about apes (even though no recognized species of ape lives in the United States or Canada, our government still discusses and weighs legislation that protects apes on other continents).

A word of advice: You probably shouldn't rant at your representative about how their actions will benefit sasquatches.  That will make them think you're a kook who needn't be listened to.  So, while being politically assertive for the sake of bigfoots, please don't drop the "BF Bomb" or your effort might be for naught.  

World’s least known apes, the crested gibbons of South East Asia, face imminent extinction

A gathering of the world’s gibbon experts, led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), has declared a call to action to save the crested gibbons of South East Asia during the XXIII Congress of the International Primatological Society. 

“The crested gibbons are the most threatened group of primates and all species require urgent attention to save them from extinction”, said Thomas Geissmann, the world-renowned gibbon expert from Zurich University and FFI gibbon advisor.

All seven species of crested gibbons are highly threatened and some are among the world’s most endangered mammals. They are found east of the Mekong River in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and China. Several species have declined drastically over the past decade due to hunting and habitat loss caused mainly by rapid economic development.

The plight of crested gibbons is exemplified by the world’s rarest ape, the Hainan gibbon. There are about 20 individuals remaining in two family groups on China’s Hainan Island. The Hainan gibbon’s closest relative is the cao vit gibbon, which survives in a patch of forest on the Vietnam – China border and numbers not much more than 100 individuals. 

“Current efforts by FFI appear to be turning round the fortune of the cao vit gibbon at the eleventh hour,“ said Paul Insua-Cao, FFI China-Indochina Primate Programme Manager.

“FFI has been championing conservation of several of the world’s rarest gibbon species for more than a decade. The organization is working with local communities and government authorities across the range states of these gibbons to protect them and their habitat”.

In the past FFI’s surveys have discovered several previously unknown populations of gibbons across the region, which have led to work to securing those populations for the future.

Gibbon conservation attracts much less funding than that of the great apes such as gorillas and orang-utans. Hence, it is vital that projects are focused on those places with utmost importance for the survival of the species. The efforts of FFI and other like-minded organizations will need continuous investment and support for the foreseeable future to ensure the gibbons’ survival.

For further information and high resolution photos, please contact: 

Rebecca Foges, 
Communications Officer 
Fauna & Flora International, 
Station Road, 
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 579 491 

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