|The Delacour`s langur ( Trachypithecus delacouri ) is a leaf-eating monkey which has an unusually long and bushy tail. It is also one of the most endangered primates in the world.
Hunting has forced the animal into a few extreme strongholds, where steep limestone cliffs grant a little protection from poachers.
Development is placing an additional pressure on the fragile species by serving to isolate already small sub-populations. This means that if the main breeding male dies, the whole sub-population is at risk of fading away, because no new males can reach the group.
`We have 19 isolated populations,` said Tilo Nadler, Vietnam Country Representative for the Frankfurt Zoological Society. `And 60% of the whole population lives in isolated sub-populations of less than 20 animals.`
The Delacour`s langur is so rare that it was not described by science until 1932, and it was another 50 years before anyone did any comprehensive research into the distribution and habitat of the species.
In the early 1990s, about 600 of the animals were found in the limestone mountain ranges that cover an area of about 5,000 sq km in northern Vietnam.
However, since then the species has taken a dramatic nose-dive. `Since 1992, around 300 animals have disappeared,` Dr Nadler told BBC News Online. `So in about 10 years, 50% of the population has disappeared.`
However, the monkey has reached the attention of various conservation groups, who are determined to see it survive. They say swift action now could save the species.
`The Delacour`s langur is in the top 25 of the critically endangered primate list,` said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International. `But the good thing about the Delacour`s is that people are beginning to pay attention to it, and it does have some protected areas.`
Conservation efforts are centred on two national reserves in northern Vietnam.
In Van Long National Reserve, created three years ago, approximately 70 individuals live in three separate populations.
`We have built five rangers stations [in the Van Long Reserve] and our organisation pays for about 20 rangers to protect the animals,` said Dr Nadler. `This is working well and the population is increasing. If there is no hunting pressure, then the population will increase very fast.`
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