The Cat Ba Langur in Cat Ba National Park

Not only attracting tourists for stunning sceneries, fresh atmosphere, Cat Ba Island is also appeals them for its nature diversity. Among a large number of fauna here, langur is the most interesting.

On Cat Ba Island, life is such a difficult thing. Located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the east of Haiphong — the third-largest city in Vietnam, Cat Ba is a clutter of limestone erosional larger rocks, colorful coral reefs and lush mangrove forests. The landscape is cut with deep cracks, marked by steep cliffs and covered in luxurious vegetation.

The two shoal ponds, both of which disappear in dry times are the only source of freshwater of the island. Rain, meanwhile, has repeatedly stroke the rocks for millennia, creating dangerous grounds of limestone needles with saw-toothed borders — blood is more popular than freshwater on Cat Ba.

In spite of this seemingly reluctant environment, Cat Ba and its nearby waters — all making up the Cat Ba Archipelago, a World Heritage area — are where you can see more than 1,500 flora and fauna species, many of which you can find nowhere else on Earth. Some of them are the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta); leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis); the southern goat-antelope (Naemorhaedus sumatraensis), a species of serow;  black giant squirrel (Ratufa bicolor); and civet cat (Viverricula indica, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and 27 species of bats together with a large number of unique ocean life.

The Cat Ba langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus poliocephalus), which is one of the most endangered primates in the world is also part of that incredible biodiversity,

Cat Ba langurs are one of many species of langur, whose life is closely stick with limestone areas. It means that their dwelling place contains mainly limestone covered karst forests. They usually sleep in caves during the long year to save them from disagreeable weather conditions. A crowd of langurs may even use twelve diverse caves as a site to take a rest. It is common that they spend only one or two nights in the same cave before driving to other feeding and sleeping areas.

If you have never heard of the Cat Ba langur, do not be surprised. It is popular with few people. Fewer still get a great opportunity to see these difficult to find, black-furred monkeys, which are unambiguously adapted to the rocky landscape and spend much of their time getting far away from the battering rains in limestone caves.

However, that does not mean that you have few chances to find them. The species was driven to the edge of extinction 20 years ago because of the impetuous poaching for local medicine and from “sport” hunting by travelers exploring the island. It was estimated that the population of this animal was over 2,500 in the 1960s. By the year of 2000, the estimate had fallen to about fifty.

It was not easy to preserve the langur. The first thing to do was to prevent them from being hunted, which is the main reason removing a few langurs from the ever-shrinking population every year. There is only one organization responsible to protect the species — started monitoring the langurs and preserving the biggest groups. They also tried their best to strengthen safeguards within Cat Ba National Park — engaging guards and promoting the capacity of staff, meeting with local people, and founding an official langur sanctuary within the protected area.

The population has slowly increased since, and is now calculated at around 70 animals in a few distant sub-populations. That consists of a few recently born animals — flashily orange at the period of being the four-month old — which joined the species earlier this year. Besides its scarcity, there is another reason why few people know about the Cat Ba langur: it has often been mistaken for the other neighboring mainland langur species.

In the past, it has been ranked as its own species, a subspecies of one or two other species, and even merely as an albino substitute of the langur of François. Nevertheless, the most recent edition of the biannual Primates in Peril report, which categorizes the 25 most endangered primate species in the world, ranks the Cat Ba langur as a distinctive species, an allocation that is gaining scientific accelerant.

The Cat Ba langur does not look too much extraordinary from other langurs in Vietnam — other than a few clusters of yellow along the crown, cheeks and neck. However, their behaviors stand apart. The langurs in Cat Ba Island get most of their watery substances from vegetation and handbags of trapped rainwater.

The species has also originally adapted to the rough environment. They can eat a wide selection of foods, including offsets, flowers, dry bark and fresh fruit, some of which include high quantity of fiber and tannic acid and many of which carry materials that would be harmful to other species, consisting of humans. They choose the protected overhangs and caves which are averagely 42 meters (137 feet) above the level or water as their sleeping areas. Many areas where the last langurs use to live simply cannot be approachable by humans on foot.

What is the coming future like for the Cat Ba langur? The most serious threat for the species nowadays is that hunting for a large number of other animals remains prevailing on the island among its 16,300 inhabitants. This could result in langurs being grabbed in traps or otherwise unintentionally killed by hunters aiming at other species.

For the time being, the number of langurs continues to increase slowly in. The baby boom this year does not seem to be repeated too soon, because females can only give birth every 2 to 3 years, and any newborns demand 4 to 6 years to barge sexual maturity. It is expected to witness a semi-cyclical population growth pattern, with a comparative number of new langurs born every few years.

Among a large number of fauna species in Cat Ba Island, the langur is one of the most interesting. They are in small quantity and need protecting. We all need to have awareness of preserving this species to partly protect the nature diversity of Vietnam.

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