Symposium on Gibbon Diversity and Conservation:

Concluding Resolution


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Thomas Geissmann

Gibbon Research Lab., Hannover

9 August 2002

As a final element of the three-day symposium on "Gibbon Diversity and Conservation", held at the 19th Congress of the International Primatological Society (Beijing, China, August 4-9, 2002), participants were invited to contribute to a roundtable discussion on the topic: "Getting gibbons out of the shadow of the great apes: What should be done? What can be done? Where are the priorities?" The roundtable discussion was held on 9 September 2002. The participants of the roundtable discussion included, in alphabetical order:

J.R.B. Alfred, Warren Y. Brockelman, David J. Chivers, Susan M. Cheyne, Robert Dallmann, Jayanta Das, Ardith Eudey, Thomas Geissmann, Nguyen Manh Ha, Joe-Won Huh, Xuelong Jiang, Heui-Soo Kim, Susan Lappan, Katja Liebal, Barney Long, Jean Martin, Shirley McGreal, Nicholas Malone, Lori K. Sheeran, Maria Ujhelyi

The participants came to the following resolution:


The ape closest to extinction, with less than 50 individuals, is a black crested gibbon hanging on in tiny forest fragments in Vietnam and China. This exemplifies the crisis facing the most diverse and endangered of the apes. The unique songs of these spectacular acrobats are fast fading from Asia's disappearing forests. Considering that the gibbons include the most critically endangered primates in the world, we, the gibbon specialists within the International Primatological Society at its 19th congress at Beijing, China, resolve that:

  • top priority be given to preventing the first ape extinctions of the 21st century;
  • immediate action be taken to protect remaining gibbon populations and their habitats.

Of the 12 gibbon species comprising at least 29 taxa we have identified the following as the 10 most endangered:

  1. Cao-vit black crested gibbon (Nomascus sp. cf. nasutus nasutus)
  2. Hainan black crested gibbon (Nomascus sp. cf. nasutus hainanus)
  3. Northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys leucogenys)
  4. Western black crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor)
  5. Silvery gibbon (Hylobates moloch)
  6. Kloss's gibbon (Hylobates klossii)
  7. Southern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys siki)
  8. Yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae)
  9. Pileated gibbon (Hylobates pileatus)
  10. Western hoolock (Bunopithecus hoolock hoolock)

We recommend the following priority actions:

  1. Promote gibbons as flagship species at local, national and international levels.
  2. Conduct a conservation status review, including population census and monitoring.
  3. Create community support for conservation at local level.
  4. Provide training and support for protected area management and law enforcement.
  5. Create private public partnerships for developing sustainable funding initiatives.
  6. Increase support for research on conservation biology, systematics, demography and behavioural ecology.

Top 4 threats

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation
  • Habitat degradation
  • Hunting (food, medicine, sport)
  • Illegal trade (pets, medicine)

Underlying causes

  1. Poor management of protected areas
  2. Poor enforcement of wildlife laws
  3. Lack of awareness at local, national and international levels
  4. Rural poverty

Participants of the symposium on "Gibbon Diversity and Conservation", 8 September 2002


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