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29/01/2019 - 08:31

Thừa Thiên Huế province looks for pig-tailed macaque

After 1975, the number of pig-tailed macaque populations was significantly reduced. Thus since 2000, they have been enlisted in the Vietnam’s Red Data Book and a catalogue of protected species.

Forest rangers from Phong Điền Natural Reserve and Huế City’s Forest Protection Unit are releasing a pig-tailed macaque back to nature

The animal that has feelings

Mr. Nguyễn Văn T. from Phong Mỹ commune (Phong Điền district), who used to be a wildlife hunter and sell animals to “playboys” for pets or restaurants for foods, had to give up his jobs since he was witnessing a mother pig-tailed macaque hugging her baby sobbing for not having been able to save her child.

“In a wildlife hunt five years ago, I trapped an individual monkey of about one year old. When I had just removed the trap to catch the baby monkey, the mother monkey discovered from a far distance and rushed to reach in cry and tears. I tried to take the baby monkey quickly out of the forest in the desperation of his mother. About a few hundred meters away, the scene of the mother suffering from her baby loss appeared in my mind and made me feel heart-breaking. I urged myself to bring the monkey back to the former place. When I arrived, I still found the mother sitting with sadness. The baby was freed and ran to his mother. He was hugged tightly and kissed his whole body by his mother..., ” told Mr. T.

Witnessing the maternal love of the individual pig-tailed macaque without any difference to that of human being, T. kept on struggling and could not sleep that night. He thought that the maternal love of the monkey could also be a common characteristic of many wildlife species. Since that day, he decided to give up his “job” of hunting wild animals.

More than 5 years since that incident, the image of maternal love of the pig-tailed macaque is still deeply imprinted in Mr. T.’s mind. Every time he has the opportunity to meet the community and talk to his relatives, T. will tell them the maternal love story of the pig-tailed macaque he witnessed.

The story really shook people's hearts and led to the “job” quit of a one-time famous animal hunters in Phong Mỹ commune to return the peace and reproduction to wildlife species.

A pig-tailed macaque is being released to the forest

We also heard another story equally emotional as people witnessed that the pig-tailed macaque also has the same characteristics of affection as humans do. Accidentally seeing a man selling a monkey (without knowing that it is a pig-tailed macaque), Mr. Trần N. from Phong Mỹ commune bought home as a pet. When he didn't want to raise it anymore, he sold it to a person on Minh Mạng Street (Huế City).

“It seems to feel that my family are about to sell it to others, a few days later, the monkey (later known as pig-tailed macaque) was sad, stopped eating. Everyone thought that he was sick and bought medicine for him but failed. When the buyer arrived to “pick him up”, the monkey cried bitterly and turned his head to his master. He kept kicking his foot as he wanted to escape from the cage and run back to the master,” said N.

Perhaps because he missed his master, the monkey was so sorrowful that he stopped eating for many days and became ill. Therefore, the buyer who lived on Minh Mạng street offered for sale on the internet an individual monkey of 7 kilograms with light brown fur, flattened head top with dark brown fur, curly tail like pig tail...

Receiving this information, Mr. Trần Văn Sơn, Head of Huế Save Pet group and members agreed to buy and take care of the monkey. After many days of care, this group handed over the monkey to Huế City Forest Protection Unit which later collaborated with Phong Điền Nature Reserve to release him to the natural environment.

Mr. Nguyễn Phong from Phong Điền Natural Reserve was moved and shared: “Being well-cared in less than a week, the monkey soon had a liking for Huế Save Pet group. Hence, when he was released to the natural environment, he did not want to leave the group members and forest rangers. More than a week after we returned to the drop-off location and found that the monkey was still there and did not want to go to the forest. The forest rangers’ eyes dewed with tears that day…”.

Rare and precious

According to Mr. Đoàn Hoài Nam, Head of the Forest Protection Unit of Bạch Mã National Park (BMNP), the pig-tailed macaque appeared in any forest in the province, but concentrated with the most quantity mainly in BMNP.

Pig-tailed monkeys have their maturity after 35 months. They have a gestation period of 171 days. Their average lifespan is 26.3 years. Their main food includes fruits and seeds (accounting for 73.8%), animal (12.2%), leaves (5%), shoots (4.1%). They look for food during the daytime in open forest valleys, on trees as well as on the ground. They shelter in caves during the winter, and in rock holes or tree branches during the summer.

They often live in flocks of 10 - 12 individuals, some of up to 40 or more. Many times, they live in small groups of 4 - 5 individuals. Their suitable habitat is low-belt primary forests or secondary forests, mangrove forest, dry forest, or rocky mountain forest up to 1,700m high ...

In the conservation of wildlife in general and monkey species in particular, in recent years, Phong Điền Nature Reserve has been very interested in the pig-tailed monkey. The wide natural forest area of this Reserve has a residence of many such species of monkeys as red-faced macaques, large slow loris, small slow loris, golden monkeys..., but the pig-tailed monkey is very rare.

Through camera trapping programs at sub-areas that was identified the distribution of this ape, Phong Điền Nature Reserve has not discovered them yet. According to Mr. Nguyễn Phong, an official of the Reserve, it is difficult to record them through camera traps due to their characteristics of living and finding food (fruits, nuts, etc.) on high trees. However, Mr. Phong still believed that the pig-tailed monkey still exists in the natural environment in Phong Điền Nature Reserve.

“We continue to pursue the search for the pig-tailed monkey with our enthusiasm, through the camera trap program and community communication. Many times, we received local people’s information about appearance of apes at any place and time, we immediately deployed out forces to check and clarify the information.

In community activities with local people, we all informed and introduced the characteristics and identities of the pig-tailed monkey, and provided them with our hotline number. As soon as there were a discovery of monkeys, or the pig-tailed monkey, they could quickly informed local authorities…,” told Mr. Phong.

In the BMNP, there has been a record of the pig-tailed monkey’s presence but the number of individuals detected was not many. Mr. Trương Cảm, a forest ranger in BMNP Forest Protection Unit, is passionate, enthusiastic and active in patrolling and monitoring to recognize the appearance of wildlife species.

He has seen the pig-tailed monkey many times in BMNP in small quantity. But he still believed that the pig-tailed monkey would proliferate and increase their flocks in the time to come if they are well protected and preserve.

According to Mr. Cảm, the pig-tailed monkey is one of the largest species in the monkey family. Their body is covered with long gray fur. On the top of their head, there is dark auburn or dark gray fur, forming a “hair whorl” that radiates around almost like a hat. The two cheeks have long, dense, light auburn fur covering the ears. Behind the forehead, there is a triangular piece of dark brown fur. The tail is fat on the base and is very short like a pig's tail...

Story, photos: Hoang Trieu

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