BackSociety » [Video] Up Close and Personal With Vietnam's Most Critically Endangered Primates

[Video] Up Close and Personal With Vietnam's Most Critically Endangered Primates

Vietnam is home to 25 primate species, eight of which are critically endangered. A new video aims to help the public put a face to some of their names.

The short video, a collaboration between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and videographer Ryan Deboodt, features incredible footage of some of the country's most spectacular animals.

These include the red-shanked douc langur, fewer than 2,000 of which remain in the wild; the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, which only number up to 250 individuals; the Cat Ba langur, with fewer than 60 left; the Delacour's langur, which number up to 200; and the Cao Vit gibbon, with an estimated 120-130 still survivng.

These species face an array of threats including habitat loss, hunting and rapid urbanization.

A red-shanked douc langur leaps across a tree.

Deboodt, who shot a spectacular 2015 video on Son Doong for National Geographic, first started noticing some of these primates while shooting in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

"I couldn't believe that there was a species as beautiful and unique as the red-shanked douc langur and that I had never heard of them," he tells in Saigoneer in an email.  

He adds, "This started my journey documenting primates in Vietnam...I eventually made my way to Son Tra to photograph the doucs there for myself, and on my fourth or fifth time there I met Josh Kempinski [FFI's country director]."

An adolescent and an adult Tonkin snub-nosed monkey.

The two then decided to create a video to help bring these little-known species to broader public attention and raise awareness of their critically endangered status. The bulk of the filming took six weeks, with some animals easier to find than others.

"For example, the red-shanked doucs in Son Tra and the Delacour's in Van Long Nature Reserve were both quite easy to film due to easy access to both locations," Deboodt shares. "However, for species like the Cao Vit gibbon and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, the situation was very different."

Both live in remote mountainous areas near Vietnam's border with China, and Deboodt says that he and the supporting FFI staff were lucky to spend even 20 minutes around them during a full week of trekking through forests.

For his part, the filmmaker was extremely grateful for the experience. "To be honest, it was seriously humbling," Deboodt explains. "Trekking through the forest to see 10% of the entire worldwide population of a species is both exciting and tragic. These are animals that very few people will ever be able to see, and I am very honored that I have been given the chance."

A Delacour's langur. Fewer than 200 remain in the wild in Vietnam.

Kempinski, meanwhile, hopes the video strikes a chord with people around the world, and especially in Vietnam.

"It's a cliche but also true, that we only protect what we value, and we cannot value something we don't know exists," he explains via email. "In all walks of life in Vietnam there are extremely low levels of knowledge regarding wildlife, including the rare, unique primates here. I would guess that more Vietnamese people know about gorillas or orangutans than the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey!"

Furthermore, Kempinski argues, now is the time to take the survival of these species seriously, before it's too late. "We think Vietnam has around 10 or so years to prevent these species from going extinct...right now, all can be saved and brought back from the edge of the abyss, but for several species, without concerted action, we'll soon pass the point of no return," he says.

The Cat Ba langur is of particular concern, especially as the island it calls home continues to develop as a tourism destination.

Deboodt adds that these species should be a point of national pride, as well. "Vietnam is full of natural wonders and beauty, and these primates are one more thing the Vietnamese should be proud of and know just how special they are," he shares.

Check out the video created by FFI and Deboodt below:

Video via YouTube channel Fauna & Flora International.

Related Articles:

- Dam Sen Park Stops Using Exotic Animals in Circus Shows Following Complaints

- It's a Race Against Time to Save Quang Nam's Critically Endangered Grey-Shanked Doucs

- International Court Exposes Vietnamese Animal Trafficking Village

Related Articles

in Society

500 Startups' Investor Trek Highlights Vietnam's Robust Tech Scene

It’s no secret that Vietnam's rapidly growing tech industry is garnering the attention of international investors thanks to an active startup scene and an expanding digital economy.

in Society

70% of People Who Shop Online Use Facebook Messenger to Communicate with Shops

Facebook Messenger is by far the most popular messaging app for Vietnamese who shop online.

in Society

An Evening With the Grass-Roots Volunteer Group Helping Saigon's Homeless

The group meets at the Saigon Central Post Office in District 1 at 10:30pm. Although it is late in the evening, there are still tourists loitering around the building, one of the city's primary attrac...

in Society

Bear Rescue Center in Northern Vietnam Expands in Effort to End Bile Farming

Vietnam's most well-known bear sanctuary recently expanded, creating more space for animals rescued from bile farming.

in Society

Dining in the Dark: Employment for the Blind in Saigon

Tucked down a small alleyway in the heart of Saigon is a restaurant where patrons voluntarily eat their meals in the dark. For a brief time, guests are at the mercy of the darkness, a condition that t...

in Society

Hanoi's Traditional Chicken Feather Duster Vendors Feel Pain of Mass-Produced Competition

Cheap, mass-produced dusters are putting Hanoi's traditional chicken feather duster vendors under financial pressure.