Interesting Facts About Hainan Black Crested Gibbons: One Of The Most Endangered Primates!

The Hainan black-crested gibbons or Hainan gibbons are one of the most endangered primates on Earth because human activities such illegal logging has destroyed 75% of their habitat. Its habitat consists of semi-deciduous monsoon forests and broad-leaved forests. The Hainan black-crested gibbons feed on ripe, sugar-rich fruits, such as figs and, at times, insects, and leaves.
The Hainan black-crested gibbon is a gibbon species found only on Hainan Island, China. It was initially considered a subspecies of the eastern black crested gibbon from Jingxi County in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, and Cao Bằng and Hòa Bình provinces of Vietnam. Molecular data, like call differences and morphology, suggest it’s a separate species.
Both male and female Hainan gibbons are slender, with long legs and arms and no tail. They use their arms to swing from tree to tree, and that’s a form of arboreal locomotion known as brachiation. Sexual dichromatism is a distinct characteristic of Hainan gibbons. Females are a buff or golden color with black patches, including a black streak on the head. Conversely, males are all almost entirely black, with sometimes buff or white cheeks. The Hainan gibbons sing duets for bonding and mating.
Currently, Hainan black-crested gibbons are identified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. They’re under serious threat of extinction. Historically, they were widespread in China. In fact, government records dating back to the 17th-century show that their range used to cover half of China. Gibbon population on Hainan Island has reduced precipitously over the past half-century.
Habitat loss is the main cause of the decline of the Hainan gibbons. Poaching has also been a problem. Illegal pulp paper plantation growers have reduced more than 25 percent of the Hainan gibbon’s habitat. Initially denizens of lowland forest, logging has pushed them into less suitable habitat at higher altitudes. While more than 2,000 gibbons were found over the entirety of Hainan Island in the 1950s, a study in 2003 found thirteen total gibbons divided into two groups and two solitary males. In 2004, only 12 to 19 Hainan black-crested gibbons were found exclusively in the Bawangling National Nature Reserve on Hainan Island. The most recent count found 22 Hainan black-crested gibbons divided into two families, one of 11 and another of 7 members, with four loners, all living in Bawangling National Nature Reserve. The species is currently vulnerable to being eliminated by a single major epidemic or storm.
The following are some interesting facts about Hainan Black Crested Gibbons you probably didn’t know. Enjoy!
1. Currently, there are no Hainan black-crested gibbons in captivity, and all previous attempts to breed them in captivity have failed. Unfortunately, the breeding characteristics of the Hainan gibbons don’t lend themselves to fast population growth. The breeding females have one offspring every two years. The newborns have a dependence period of about one-and-a-half years.
2. The Hainan black-crested gibbons live in three distinct types of forests on the island. Their main area of occupancy is called the primary forest (Old-growth forest). Within the primary forest, these gibbons usually live in trees that are 10 meters or taller. In addition to offering shelter and trees for singing rituals, the primary forests are also home to at least six species of plants that gibbons eat.
Apart from primary forests, the Hainan black-crested gibbons also spent their time in secondary forests and dwarf forests. Secondary forests are less suitable for these gibbons than the primary forests. The dwarf forests are even less favorable to them. A study by Fan et al. discovered that Hainan gibbons spent only 0.5 percent of the 13-month study period in the dwarf forests. Nevertheless, dwarf forests still account for a small portion of their habitat and Hainan gibbons use them to move between primary forests.
3. The few remaining Hainan gibbons now exhibit polygynous relationships; small families usually consisting of two mature females, one breeding male, and their offspring. It seems this stable pair bond relationship have helped these gibbons to reduce their interbirth interval. The Hainan black-crested gibbons acquired such reproductive adaptation in response to their drastically diminished natural habitat.
4. Any alterations in the characteristics of the Hainan ecosystem, which negatively affect the Hainan black-crested gibbons also indicate the negative impact on other species. The Hainan gibbons are considered an umbrella species for the Hainan Island. The status of these gibbons is a marker for the health and stability of the ecosystem.
5. In the 1960s, rubber plantations and commercial logging forced gibbon communities to higher elevations. Much of Hainan’s lowlands were deforested to make way for these activities, causing a dramatic decline in gibbon population. By 1999, only four percent of the Hainan black-crested gibbons’ original habitat remained on the island.

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