Scientists throw lifeline to world’s rarest primate
Hainan gibbons — the rarest primates on Earth — were already teetering on the edge of extinction in 2014 when the most powerful storm to lash China’s coast in half a century ravaged their island oasis.
But the massive mudslides unleashed by super typhoon Rammasun made things worse, gouging 15-metre wide gullies into the mountainous forest and effectively cutting off their treetop highways.
“Canopy connectivity is critical for gibbons as they are strictly arboreal,” lead author Bosco Pui Lok Chan, head of the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong’s New Territories, told AFP.
After the typhoon, Chan and his colleagues noticed while monitoring the gibbons — only a few dozen of which remain in the wilds of China’s Hainan Island — that they had trouble crossing these new gaps in the forest.