Officials encouraged by growing numbers of endangered primate in China

Aug. 13, 2013 at 8:22 PM

BEIJING, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The number of China's snub-nosed monkeys, among the world's most endangered primates, increased from 2,000 to more than 3,000 since the 1990s, officials said.

Chinese scientists reported their findings from a scientific expedition that began in July to study the animals, known in China as Yunnan golden hair monkeys, in mountainous forests in southwest China's Yunnan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Thanks to protection efforts, one group of 200 monkeys observed in an expedition in 1987 has now grown to over 1,800, accounting for more than 60 percent of the world's total, officials said.

The monkeys were close to extinction in the 1980s because local hunters poached them for food or their distinctively colored fur.

Although their population has increased significantly, environmental degradation and inadequate protection mean they are still endangered, Xie Hongfang, head of the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve Administration Bureau, said.

Of the more than 70,000 people who live in the nature reserve region, many are living in poverty and have to compete for resources with the animals in the nature reserve, Xie said.

"Local residents have made their sacrifices to protect the ecological environment and the endangered species," Xie said. "More compensation and support should be given to them to boost their incentive to protect the monkeys."

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