The Qinling Mountains

Copyright: Thomas Marent

Kindly contributed by photographer and biologist Thomas Marent, whose new book Like Us presents 130 primate species, from the unmistakably large Congolese mountain gorilla to the tiniest primate, the mouse lemur. Marent captures the primates' personalities, drawing us closer to our nearest relatives.

  One of my favourite spots is the remote area of the Qinling Mountains in the Southwest of China. I was allowed to spend a few days with some Chinese researchers who study the spectacular looking “Golden Snub-nosed Monkey” (Rhinopithecus roxellana). This endemic species lives between 1,500-3,400 m above sea level and especially in the winter time they have a thick golden coat.

Copyright: Thomas Marent

 

Unfortunately there are only about 10,000 individuals left. Snub-nosed monkeys are the primates who can resist best the cold. The golden snub-nosed monkey is found in groups ranging in size from 5-10 individuals to bands of about 600. The main threat of the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey is the habitat loss. Besides the logging of the forest, hunting is also a threat. For instance, lichens are the main food of this vegetarian monkey's diet and dead trees have the greatest lichen coverage. Unfortunately, dead trees are harvested, thus reducing the quality of the habitat and availability of food.

Copyright: Thomas Marent

 

I visited this place twice, once in autumn and once in the winter time when the monkeys are very photogenic. The vocal communications between the individuals were fascinating. Watching those monkeys was an unforgettable experience.    

Copyright: Thomas Marent

  Photo Credits: Thomas Marent