Rarest primate on verge of extinction

London, April 12: Do you know the name of world’s rarest primate? It’s Hainan gibbon — a species found only in a tiny corner of an island in the South China Sea.

However, its long-term survival is in jeopardy, with only 23 to 25 of the animals believed to be inhabiting just 20 sq km of forest in China’s Hainan Island.

To chalk out a plan to save it, international primate researchers convened an emergency summit in Hainan last month, according to a report in nature.com.

“With the right conservation management, it is still possible to conserve and recover the Hainan gibbon population,” meeting co-chair Samuel Turvey of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was quoted as saying.

“Given the current highly perilous state of the species, we cannot afford to wait any longer before initiating a more pro-active and coordinated recovery programme,” he added.

The species, whose scientific name is Nomascus hainanus, numbered more than 2,000 in the late 1950s.

But it has been devastated through the destruction of its habitat by deforestation and also by poaching.

Its restricted habitat means that a single catastrophic event, such as a typhoon or a disease outbreak, could wipe out the minuscule population.

If the species becomes extinct, it would be the first apes to be wiped out because of human actions, the reports added.

IANS