Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Delacour Langur: Critically Endangered Primate

photo: Ben Gilbert
Critically endangered, the Delacour Langur (Trachypithecus delacuri) is found only in a few Karst Mountain formations in Vietnam. 

With an estimated 200 individuals remaining, the chances of seeing this animal are slim indeed.  There are a few still reported in Cuc Phuong National Park (where there is also a primate rescue center which attempting a breeding program)....but after a few days of trekking we saw not a one.  So, off to Van Long Nature Reserve where there is a small but stable group living in the Karst formations in this protected, but easily accessed by boat, area.

The preserve consists of 3000 hectares of wetland with large Karst formations where the Langurs live.  One can hire a boat with guide to paddle you throughout the reserve, including in and out of the many caves....and a visit to a mountainside pagoda. 

Travel companions and fellow naturalists Ben and Phil Gilbert with local guide and "gondolier."
One of the many caves in the limestone mountains.

Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meningting). 

Local fishermen are permitted limited access to trap fish, crabs and snails.  The government has developed a healthy relationship with the local people...who gain employment as boat guides and in the "resort" closeby.

Van Long Resort link
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis).

Placid water, beautiful scene....but rather inclement weather on our winter visit.

Ben unleashes the "big dog," the Nikon 500mm.  We were fortunate to see six individual langurs...unusual on an overcast and cool day.

This group of Langurs is stable and has been well studied....and due to the preserve many Vietnamese are able to view them.

BBC article about Delacour Langurs
Egrets winging in for the night after a day fishing in flooded rice paddies.

Looks like a sunset, but it was the first bit of sun we had seen all week.

Lien, friend and National Museum entomologist was my boat-buddy...we were thrilled to see such rare primates.  If you travel to Vietnam, be sure to make a side-trip to Van's not on the usual tourist itinerary, but a wonderful experience.

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