Sunday, October 1, 2023

Constructing bridges for the long-term survival of a uncommon monkey in central Vietnam

A guided tour on the InterContinental Danang gives an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of many rarest primates on this planet

This in all probability sounds slightly daft, however I’ve come to a luxurious five-star resort in Vietnam to see monkeys.

However not simply any previous monkeys. 

Not these blasted macaques like those that attempt to sit in your head on the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud or those that bathe within the scorching springs of snowy Nagano Prefecture in Japan.

When you may have the duty of being set in a nature reserve like this, you’re actually taking up quite a lot of duty

I’ve come to the InterContinental Danang Solar Peninsula Resort in central Vietnam in hope of catching a glimpse of the extra civilized and far rarer red-shanked douc langur.

Vietnam has one of the crucial numerous populations of primates on this planet and is residence to a few sorts of douc langur – all of that are critically endangered. 

Inhabitants research within the jungles of Son Tra Peninsula the place the resort is positioned simply half-hour by automobile from Danang Worldwide Airport estimate 1,500 red-shanked douc langurs stay right here. In whole, it’s believed there are simply 2,000 in Vietnam, so I’ve undoubtedly come to the correct spot.

However I’m not on this mission alone at present to see these shy creatures of the treetops who, I surprisingly be taught, don’t eat ripe fruit as a result of they will’t digest sugar with out it fermenting of their somewhat rotund bellies and inflicting one hell of a stomach ache.

As a substitute, I’ve bought resident British zoologist Anthony Barker taking me on a private tour of the 39 hectare property in one of many resort’s electrical buggies that cart visitors backwards and forwards to their rooms throughout their keep.

“The doucs are nearly solely arboreal, apart from consuming the odd piece of unripe fruit,” he tells me from behind the wheel as we fastidiously negotiate our well past a buggy filled with visitors heading the other means for breakfast, “in order that they very not often come to the ground of the forest.”

I crane my neck to search for into the plush cover of foliage above us that rises some 700 meters above sea stage and blankets 60 sq. kilometers of pristine wilderness simply 10 kilometers exterior of Danang and surprise if at present will probably be my fortunate day.

“We attempt to educate visitors and different guests that the red-shanks aren’t regular monkeys just like the macaques we even have on the peninsula that eat nearly all the pieces,” he says. 

Anthony himself is a uncommon species. He’s mentioned to be one in all only a few resident zoologists at resorts all over the world, so I really feel like I’m in good palms as we zig-zag our means alongside the slim paths of the steep mountain on which this gorgeous resort is constructed. 

He’s additionally the current recipient of the World Tourism Community (WTN) Tourism Hero Award in recognition of his excellent conservation efforts that embrace collaboration with native authorities and NGOs on initiatives and the schooling of communities and workers members on the resort in regards to the significance of conservation.  

“It actually is likely one of the solely locations on this planet the place you possibly can see them as a result of the opposite populations have been so disturbed – they don’t like people very a lot in any respect,” he tells me with one eye on the place we’re going and the opposite searching for telltale indicators like half-eaten leaves, discarded branches and poop that point out these long-limbed and slender leaf-eaters could also be inside shut proximity to us.

However as Anthony factors out the tropical almond bushes which might be a favorite of the red-shanks’ and the pure bridges they supply so the inhabitants doesn’t get fragmented and “islanded” giving them entry to feeding bushes and “residence bushes” on the resort grounds in the course of the stormy season, one thing tells me I could not get an opportunity to see these most good-looking of animals at present. The solar is already getting greater and warmer, greater than possible forcing them deeper into the cool of the shade elsewhere on the mountain.

I nonetheless surprise if we’re being watched, although and ask Anthony if human encroachment on their habitat is the principle cause why red-shanked douc langurs change to excessive alert each time they arrive into contact with people.

“One in every of their major threats is poaching as a result of they’re prized on the black marketplace for conventional Chinese language medication,” he explains. “They’re equally valued to rhino horns, however with the red-shanks, it’s for his or her brains. It’s believed that consuming their brains has magical properties for human well being.”   

WATCH: Journey concepts on your subsequent journey to central Vietnam

Certainly, Vietnam has a critical poaching drawback that has left a few of its 27 completely different species of primates on the verge of extinction. It’s believed, for instance, that simply 67 Cat Ba langurs close to the World Heritage Web site of Ha Lengthy Bay in northern Vietnam stay.

Whereas not beneath such fast menace as their northern cousins, the red-shanked douc langur, so named due to its rusty red-coloured legs from the knees down, stays a goal of poachers and is at-risk of better habitat loss from tourism over-development round Danang. 

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“One of the best factor is schooling in terms of this,” says Anthony who understands higher than anybody his juggling act of being a champion of conservation whereas representing a property that has been criticized up to now for encroaching on the habitat of the very endangered species he’s now working onerous to guard. 

“What I’m making an attempt to do is ready an instance right here for different properties in an analogous state of affairs, as a result of when you may have the duty of being set in a nature reserve like this, you’re actually taking up quite a lot of duty. The world is turning into extra crowded, so we actually have to give you conservational methods by which we are able to stay harmoniously with nature. I might adore it if different properties might make a stand like we now have right here and begin implementing methods they will have a relationship whereby people and wildlife profit collectively.”

Certainly, since Anthony arrived in 2019, the douc langur inhabitants has flourished, constructing on the efforts of the resident zoologist earlier than him. And importantly, poaching makes an attempt on the peninsula, at the least within the proximity of the resort, have all however been eradicated. 

He’s even witnessed the uncommon phenomenon of two units of twins being born into the inhabitants over the previous few years, together with the enviable privilege of having the ability to frequently monitor a wholesome household with greater than 20 members that spends numerous hours feeding within the bushes Anthony and the resort have protected and nurtured particularly for them.

As well as, he’s overseen the planning, growth and development of the Discovery Centre on the resort resulting from open this yr which won’t solely purpose to coach youthful generations of Vietnamese in regards to the distinctive variety of their nation’s valuable primate populations, but additionally drive funding campaigns for additional analysis into them in collaboration with NGOs like GreenViet to allow them to proceed doing the superb work they do.

“I wish to assume we’re serving to,” Anthony says as he pulls up the buggy out entrance of my room after an enlightening tour that has impressed upon me the significance of conserving such fantastic animals and the way resorts and the journey trade at-large can play an integral position in doing so. 

Whereas I haven’t bought to see or have an in depth encounter with any of the monkeys he’s advised me a lot about, I go away considering it’s in all probability for the most effective anyway. 

Observe Matt on Instagram at @mattcowansaigon

All photographs offered by InterContinental Danang

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