First chance to see…or last? Spectacular new footage of Vietnam's primates

August 23, 2018 by Josh Kempinski, Fauna & Flora International
Credit: Fauna & Flora International

Vietnam is famous for several reasons: it was a notorious theatre of war during an unspeakably horrific but generation-defining conflict; it has become an extremely popular 'new' tourism destination; and it boasts a world-conquering, some would say unparalleled, cuisine. What Vietnam is not famous for – outside the conservation community, at least – is its wildlife. And yet the country is one of the most biologically rich on the planet, harbouring 10 percent of all the world's known species – despite covering just 1 percent of the land area.

Vietnam has not only an incredible variety of wildlife, but also a vast array of so-called endemic species – those that are found nowhere else on the planet, in other words. Nowhere is this diversity and endemism more apparent than among the country's . Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Vietnam has a staggering 25 . Five of these are endemic and all the rest – bar the lorises and macaque – occur only in Indochina. And even those species also found in Cambodia, Laos or China tend to be confined to areas close to the Vietnam border.

Sadly, the survival chances of these wonderful animals are diminishing by the day. What people also don't know about these primates is that 11 of them – all langurs (leaf-eating monkeys) and gibbons (small apes) – are listed as critically endangered, the highest level of threat category on the IUCN Red List. Many other species are officially endangered. In other words, we are perilously close to an unprecedented event in the history of the world – a human-induced mass extinction of primates.

Red-shanked douc langur, one of the critically endangered monkeys captured on film. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI

We still have a critical window of opportunity in which to prevent such a calamity, but that window is closing fast. Vietnam is changing: from the emerging green movement of the youth, to pioneering government legislation and commitments, we see change wherever we look. But unless there is a concerted effort, right here, right now, we will start to see primates disappear forever.

A crucial part of FFI's multifaceted approach to primate conservation is raising awareness. Government bureaucrats, donor agencies, local companies and the general population alike will not be able prioritise – let alone protect – primates, if they are not even aware of their existence. With this in mind, FFI has partnered with internationally acclaimed film-maker Ryan Deboodt to produce a series of stunning short films showcasing the threatened primates that form the spectacular centrepiece of Vietnam's unique and irreplaceable natural heritage.

Credit: Fauna & Flora International

This remarkable footage provides us with a privileged insight into the lives of monkeys and apes that are on the very brink of extinction. This may be the last we see of them, unless we act now.

Explore further: 95% of lemur population facing extinction: conservationists

Related Stories

Rare endangered primate spotted in Vietnam

August 24, 2016

A new group of critically endangered primates has been spotted in Vietnam, raising hopes the rare creatures may not be wiped out in the next decade as scientists had feared.

Community of rare gibbons found in Vietnam

July 18, 2011

The lively morning calls of a rare species of gibbon has led to the discovery of the only known "viable" community of the talkative primates in remote Vietnamese forests, conservationists said Monday.

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey sighting in Vietnam

May 21, 2012

As one of the most endangered primate species in the world, sightings of the elusive Tonkin snub-nosed monkey are rare. It’s no wonder a recent sighting of a group in Vietnam has proved cause for celebration.

Extinction looms for gibbons in Vietnam, scientists say

May 22, 2012

The first comprehensive study of gibbons in Vietnam in over a decade has found that three of the six species (the cao vit and western black crested gibbons and the northern white-cheeked gibbon) are perilously close to extinction, ...

Madagascar lemurs top endangered primates list

October 15, 2012

In the hit cartoon film "Madagascar", the island's lemurs are a lovable bunch of extroverts, but they are also among the world's most threatened primates, conservationists warned on Monday.

Recommended for you

China seems to confirm scientist's gene-edited babies claim

January 21, 2019

Chinese authorities appear to have confirmed a scientist's unpublished claim that he helped make the world's first gene-edited babies and that a second pregnancy is underway, and say he could face consequences for his work.

Competing species can both survive, study finds

January 21, 2019

When species compete for limited resources, structures in their environment can be the difference between coexistence or one eliminating another. Relationships between species also are important, according to new research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.