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Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey - Rhinopithecus strykeri
Topic Started: Jan 7 2012, 03:04 PM (2,055 Views)
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Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey - Rhinopithecus strykeri

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Rhinopithecus
Species: R. strykeri

Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Naming and discovery
The species came to the attention of a team of scientists allied to the "Myanmar Primate Conservation Program" researching the status of the Hoolock Gibbon in early 2010. The team, led by Swiss primatologist Thomas Geissman and Ngwe Lwin of the Myanmar Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association, were supported by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the People Resources and Conservation Foundation. The species has been given the binomial name Rhinopithecus strykeri in honour of philanthropist Jon Stryker, president and founder of the Arcus Foundation which also sponsored the project.

The specimen most closely examined was the skull (with mandible) and skin of a gutted adult male obtained from hunters in Pade, subsequently deposited in the Anthropological Institute and Museum of the University of Zürich. Additional sample skulls of animals killed some three years earlier, one male and one female, were also collected along with a bag he had made out of the skin of a juvenile caught in January 2010, all obtained in Htantan village.

The discovery team encountered seven live specimens, including an infant, but these moved out of sight before they could be photographed or studied in detail.

The monkey's fur is mostly black. Its crown consists of a thin, high, forward-curved crest of long, black hairs. It has protruding white ear tufts, a mostly naked face with pale pink skin, a “moustache” of whitish hairs above the upper lip, and a distinct white chin beard. The perineal area is white and clearly defined, and the limbs are mostly black; the inner sides of the upper arms and upper legs are blackish brown.

Rhinopithecus strykeri's lips are prominent, and the nose upturned, allegedly causing the animal to sneeze in rainy weather.[7] Its tail is approximately 1.4 times the body length: the first sample, an adult male, has a head-body length of 55.5 cm, and a tail 78 cm long.

The only known specimens exist in three or four groups within a 270 sq km range at 1,700 to 3,200 m above sea level in the eastern Himalayas, in the north-eastern section of Kachin State, the northernmost part of Myanmar (Burma). The species is isolated from other species of snub-nosed monkeys by the Mekong and the Salween rivers, but shares the area with other monkey species: Shortridge's Langur, Stump-tailed Macaque, Assam Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, and Northern Pig-tailed Macaque. The known population is estimated at 260 to 330 individuals. This is the first species of the Rhinopithecus genus to be found in Myanmar: the other 4 species, Golden, Black, Gray and Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkeys, are found in China and Vietnam.

The species spend summer months in temperate mixed forests at upper altitudes of their range, and descend to lower ground in the winter to escape snow.

Deforestation due to logging operations, isolation and hunting by local humans for food are considered dangers to the small extant population. The known population size of 260-330 individuals qualifies this species for classification as Critically Endangered by IUCN.


New species of monkey sneezes when it rains

A new species of snub-nosed monkey that sneezes when it rains has been discovered in the remote Himalayan forests of Burma.

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The monkey, measuring almost two feet high with a tail even longer than its body size, has an extraordinary upturned nose and full lips. It is the largest snub-nosed monkey species in the world.

Little is known about the habits of the black monkey with a white beard, but locals say it is easy to find the animals because it sneezes when it rains.

To avoid getting rainwater in their noses they spend rainy days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees, according to locals.

Rhinopithecus Strykeri, that is known in the local dialect as monkey with an upturned face, was found by scientists from Flora and Fauna International investigating gibbons populations in forests up to 10,000ft above sea level.

Villagers talked about a monkey that was well known for making a lot of noise when it rained and showed the researchers bodies hunted for meat.

Further investigation revealed an estimated population of 260-330 individuals, meaning that it is classified as critically endangered by the United Nations.

The area where the monkeys were found has been closed to the world for decades, which is why the monkey has not been discovered. It is under threat from illegal logging, as well as hunting for food and Chinese medicines.

Mark Rose, Chief Executive of Fauna & Flora International said it could go extinct before anything is known about the rare monkey, such as why it has an upturned nose.

“We are committed to taking immediate conservation action to safeguard the survival of this important new species together with our partners and local communities in Burma,” he said.
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First Pictures: Live Snub-Nosed Monkeys Caught on Camera

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Snubby in the Flesh

Photograph courtesy FFI/BANCA/PRCF

A snub-nosed monkey crouches in a mountain jungle in northern Myanmar (Burma) this past spring in one of several pictures of the species released this week. The photos are said to be the first ever of live snub-nosed monkeys.

Discovered two years ago, the species—nicknamed "snubby"—was previously known only from dead specimens. So conservation group Flora & Fauna International (FFI) set up camera traps to try to catch the elusive animals on film.

"I did not expect us to get anything," said FFI wildlife photographer Jeremy Holden.

But the fourth camera Holden and his team checked contained a blurry picture of a monkey—and a camera set higher in the jungle captured the above image.

"Most people are disappointed in the quality" of the photograph, a detail of which is shown above. "But in my mind, the monkey looking like a small gargoyle in the corner of the frame is one of the best pictures I've ever got," Holden said.

"It hints at the fragile nature of this species."

Snub-Nosed Babies

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Another camera-trap picture shows snub-nosed monkeys carrying infants.

These pictures "confirm observations from local hunters that the snub-nosed monkey species do come to the ground, especially in summer to eat bamboo shoots," Frank Momberg, FFI's Myanmar program director, said by email.

"Not only does this photo confirm the presence of the species alive in the wild, but also that the population is reproducing, which is good news for the future of this population."

Monkey in Trouble?

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Only about 300 snub-nosed monkeys (pictured, an individual caught by camera trap) are thought to remain in the wild, conservationists say.

Though the species' habitat is now mostly pristine jungle, logging for high-value trees is taking place not far from where the camera traps were set, FFI's Momberg said.

The Myanmar Forest Department supports the idea of designating a new national park, but "this process requires time, while logging needs to stop as soon as possible," he added.

Even if logging is not directly affecting the monkeys' habitats, the loggers' roads "allow easy access for hunters," noted photographer Holden.

The monkeys are also at risk of being hunted and sold for traditional Chinese medicine, he said, though they are currently less valuable than the commonly hunted macaque. Snub-nosed monkeys are also known to have been killed for food.

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Another snub-nosed monkey and her baby travel the jungle. Little is known about the species, especially because its population is spread out over a relatively wide range.

However, the animals are easy to find a rainstorm, since their upturned noses catch water and cause them to sneeze.

Momberg added that, after a conservation-awareness program was held for villagers in December, "local people now feel proud of harboring this newly discovered, rare primate, and said they would stop hunting" the monkey.

FFI will be offering small village-development grants to communities that sign agreements to conserve the snub-nosed monkeys and their habitat.

"We have our ears on the ground [to monitor] whether the hunting really stops."

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