A Race Against Time to Protect the Delacour’s Langur
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Critically Endangered Delacour’s Langur. Photo by FFI.
Vietnam is a rapidly emerging industrialized nation, fueling its development with the cement industry that is active in the Kim Bang limestone forest. This relatively small limestone karst outcrop covered in lush forest is surrounded by dozens of limestone quarries used for cement production. Remarkably, scientists recently discovered a previously unknown population of about 40 Critically Endangered Delacour’s Langurs in these hilltop forests.
Immediate conservation interventions are required as the species is under imminent threat from a lack of protection and rapid expansion of limestone mines. It is urgent that this newly discovered group of langurs be linked to the largest known population of approximately 130 individuals immediately to the south in the Van Long Nature Reserve.
Rainforest Trust seeks $493,032 to assist our local partner Fauna & Flora International-Vietnam in having the Vietnamese government declare 10,125 acres as the Kim Bang Species and Habitat Conservation Area. Our partner will conduct surveys to better understand the langur population and will work with community members to monitor biodiversity within the site.
Critically Endangered Delacour’s Langurs. Photo by FFI
The Delacour’s Langur is a Critically Endangered primate endemic to Vietnam. First described in 1932, there was no further information about the species until it was rediscovered in 1987. In the last decade alone, at least nine subpopulations have been extirpated due to habitat loss and hunting for traditional medicine. The total surviving population is estimated to number less than 250 individuals. This alarming trend has caused these langurs to be continuously included on the list of the World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates.
While full biodiversity surveys have yet to be carried out at the proposed Kim Bang conservation area, interviews with local inhabitants suggest a number of threatened species can still be found within these forests. Further, limestone karst formations have been proven to be rich in endemic and lesser known species groups such as cave dwelling fish, snails and deep soil invertebrates. In-depth surveys must be carried out to provide a complete snapshot of the area’s biodiversity.
Mining the limestone karst. Photo by FFI
The most pressing threats to the area and the species are habitat disturbance and loss due to the numerous cement quarries located on the perimeter of the proposed protected area. These operations pose a considerable long-term threat to Kim Bang and the Critically Endangered Delacour’s Langur, because if left unchecked, it could reduce the area to flat, degraded land. Over the last two decades, quarrying has contributed significantly to narrowing and reducing the forested langur habitat in Kim Bang and is threatening the long-term survival of the langur and other important species. Converting fertile forest valleys to farmland is another significant threat, as well as direct poaching of langurs for meat and traditional medicine.
Meeting with a community in the Thanh Son commune. Photo by FFI
There are no people living within the proposed protected area. However, there is some limited farming taking place along the periphery. The majority of communities in the Kim Bang area are from the Kinh ethnic group. Most people are farmers, although a significant amount work in the local cement industry. The majority of people are not considered forest dependent, but some still hunt and collect forest resources. Compensation and/or support to increase yield and market access outside the proposed protected area will be supplied for those farmers who lose or have reduced access to land.
Our partner is committed to rights-based and participatory conservation that places empowered local people at the heart of natural resource decision making. In Kim Bang, despite the critical role that the local government and cement companies will have, our partner acknowledges that long-term success and sustainability will also depend upon building local consensus and turning community members into decision makers.
Sign urges people to protect the langur. Photo by FFI
Because of the limestone karst, the Kim Bang forest most certainly contains a unique assemblage of biodiversity with high rates of endemism, which will be threatened by expanding cement quarry activities.
Rainforest Trust seeks $493,032 to assist our local partner in having the Vietnamese government declare 10,125 acres as the Kim Bang Species and Habitat Conservation Area. Our partner will undertake a thorough census of the langur population in Kim Bang, which will form not only the comprehensive evaluation of the site, but also the baseline for ongoing protected area monitoring. Our partner will follow the method of Free, Prior and Informed Consent among the local communities, while also creating Community Conservation Teams to patrol, report and monitor biodiversity within the site. When recruiting, special effort will be made to engage local hunters to act as conservationists, educators and guides, as they are very familiar with these forests. Concurrently, a business plan to secure long-term financial sustainability will be developed and implemented.