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

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A guided tour on the InterContinental Danang provides an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of many rarest primates on the earth

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

However not simply any outdated monkeys.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 sizzling springs of snowy Nagano Prefecture in Japan.

When you’ve got the duty of being set in a nature reserve like this, you’re actually taking over lots 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 probably the most numerous populations of primates on the earth and is dwelling to 3 forms of douc langur – all of that are critically endangered. 

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

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

As an alternative, I’ve received 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 company forwards and backwards to their rooms throughout their keep.

“The doucs are virtually solely arboreal, apart from consuming the odd piece of unripe fruit,” he tells me from behind the wheel as we rigorously negotiate our well past a buggy stuffed with company heading the alternative approach for breakfast, “in order that they very not often come to the ground of the forest.”

I crane my neck to lookup into the plush cover of foliage above us that rises some 700 meters above sea degree and blankets 60 sq. kilometers of pristine wilderness simply 10 kilometers exterior of Danang and surprise if at the moment shall be my fortunate day.

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

Anthony himself is a uncommon species. He’s stated to be one in every of only a few resident zoologists at resorts world wide, so I really feel like I’m in good fingers as we zig-zag our approach alongside the slender paths of the steep mountain on which this beautiful 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 tasks and the training of communities and workers members on the resort in regards to the significance of conservation.  

“It actually is among the solely locations on the earth the place you’ll be able to 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 in search of 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 timber 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 timber and “dwelling timber” on the resort grounds throughout the stormy season, one thing tells me I’ll not get an opportunity to see these most good-looking of animals at the moment. The solar is already getting greater and warmer, greater than doubtless forcing them deeper into the cool of the shade some place else on the mountain.

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

“Considered one of their principal threats is poaching as a result of they’re prized on the black marketplace for conventional Chinese language drugs,” 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 severe poaching drawback that has left a few of its 27 totally 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 rapid 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 higher habitat loss from tourism over-development round Danang. 

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“One of the best factor is training on the subject 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 prior to now for encroaching on the habitat of the very endangered species he’s now working exhausting to guard. 

“What I’m making an attempt to do is about an instance right here for different properties in an analogous scenario, as a result of when you’ve got the duty of being set in a nature reserve like this, you’re actually taking over lots of duty. The world is turning into extra crowded, so we actually have to provide you with conservational methods wherein we will reside harmoniously with nature. I’d adore it if different properties may make a stand like we have now right here and begin implementing methods they’ll 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, a minimum of 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 with the ability to repeatedly monitor a wholesome household with greater than 20 members that spends numerous hours feeding within the timber Anthony and the resort have protected and nurtured particularly for them.

As well as, he’s overseen the planning, growth and building of the Discovery Centre on the resort resulting from open this 12 months which is not going to solely intention to coach youthful generations of Vietnamese in regards to the distinctive range of their nation’s treasured 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 wonderful work they do.

“I prefer 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 great animals and the way resorts and the journey business at-large can play an integral position in doing so. 

Whereas I haven’t received to see or have an in depth encounter with any of the monkeys he’s informed me a lot about, I depart pondering it’s in all probability for the very best anyway. 

Comply with Matt on Instagram at @mattcowansaigon

All photographs supplied by InterContinental Danang

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