Monday, January 16, 2012

Short Sharp Science - Myanmar snub-nosed monkey caught on camera

Andrew Purcell, online producer

First described scientifically from a dead specimen collected by a local hunter in 2010, the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) has now been photographed living in the wild for the first time.
The discovery was made by a joint team from Fauna & Flora International, Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, and People Resources and Conservation Foundation.
The images were taken using camera traps, triggered by infra-red sensors, placed in the high, forested mountains of Burma's northerly Kachin state, bordering China.
"We were very surprised to get these pictures," said Saw Soe Aung, a field biologist who set the camera traps. "It was exciting to see that some of the females were carrying babies - a new generation of our rarest primate."
Despite this, hunting and habitat loss mean that the species is likely to be classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in the near future. The population of Myanmar snub-nosed monkeys is currently estimated to contain no more than 300 individuals.
As well as taking the world's first photographs of the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, the camera traps set up by the team also captured images of other rare animals, including the red panda, takin, marbled cat and Malayan sun bear.

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