Grueter, C. C., Jiang Xuelong, Konrad, R., Fan Pengfei, Guan Zhenhua, and Geissmann, T. (2009). Are Hylobates lar extirpated from China? International Journal of Primatology 30: 553-567.

Are Hylobates lar extirpated from China?

Cyril C. Grueter1,2,3,6, Xuelong Jiang4, Roger Konrad2, Pengfei Fan5, Zhenhua Guan4, and Thomas Geissmann1,2
Anthropological Institute, University Zürich-Irchel,
Winterthurerstr. 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland
2 Gibbon Conservation Alliance, Anthropological Institute, University of Zürich,
8057 Zürich, Switzerland
3 Jane Goodall Institute, Anthropological Institute, University of Zürich, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland
4 Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Kunming 65024 Yunnan, China
5 Department of Life Science and Chemistry, Dali University, Dali 671003 Yunnan, China
6 Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail:

Key words: Ape; China; extinction; gibbon; Hylobates lar; Yunnan Province.

Abstract: The Nangunhe Nature Reserve in Southwest Yunnan (PRC) has long been presumed to be the last stronghold of lar (or white-handed) gibbons (Hylobates lar) in China and the likely last place of occurrence of Hylobates lar yunnanensis. We conducted a comprehensive survey to assess the status of lar gibbons at Nangunhe. We found no visual or auditory evidence of them still residing at the reserve and therefore tentatively conclude that lar gibbons have become extinct in China. It appears that large-scale destruction of primary forests in the 1960s and 1970s brought about an initial decline in their numbers, and subsequent uncontrolled hunting has resulted in their extirpation. The situation for the six Chinese ape taxa is nothing less than disastrous, with 1 taxon assumed to have become extinct during the last few years, 1 taxon not having been confirmed since the 1980s, and 2 species at the very brink of extinction with only tens of individuals remaining in China.

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