Drought drives endangered douc langurs to the seashore

By Viet Quoc   April 17, 2020 | 05:15 am PT
Drought drives endangered douc langurs to the seashore
Three among over 200 black-shank douc langurs found in the coastal forest of Ninh Thuan Province, south central Vietnam, April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Huynh.
Troops of black-shank douc langurs that appeared on the seaside in Ninh Thuan Province are being closely monitored and protected.

More than 200 douc langurs, an endangered primate species, have appeared many times recently at the foot of a mountain on the coast in Thuan Nam District.

They are seen moving in packs and climbing wild mango trees to eat young leaves. The monkeys have black fur, white face and long tail. A fully grown douc langur weighs about 10 kg. Each troop has about 7 to 15 members. The leader of each troop usually sits on a high tree and warns the whole herd about the presence of humans.

The douc langurs had been coming to the edge of the local forest to find food and water, but they haven’t harmed the crops and plants in local fields and gardens.

"They came very close, about 50 m from our huts, but did not destroy anything, so we really appreciate them," said Tran Van Thach, a resident of Phuoc Dinh Commune.

On Thursday afternoon, Nguyen Thanh Hieu, Head of the Thuan Nam Coastal Protection and Forest Management Department, said that in the past month, his agency has recorded more than 20 troops of over 100 black-shank douc langurs appearing at 22 different locations within the forest area.

Hieu said this black-shank douc langur population was a rare species on the global Red List of endangered species. For a long time, they have lived on 600-700 m high mountain ranges and hidden in rock niches so it’s very difficult to spot them. This year, because of the drought, the trees on the mountains were arid, the lack of water got them coming down to lower areas to find water and food to sustain life.

In order to prevent groups of hunters, Thuan Nam Protection Forest Management Department sent forest protection units for regular patrol.

"People living near the forest will also inform us when they see any sign of hunters," Hieu said.

Thuan Nam coastal forest is 13,500-hectare-wide and it’s a type of semi-desert forest, which helps to prevent desertification and keep the underground water sources in Ninh Thuan drought areas. The presence of douc langurs with over 200 individuals here affirmed the importance of this forest.

"We will coordinate with research units to investigate the number and study the behavior and movements of these douc langur troops to come up with a long-term conservation plan," Hieu said.

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