News and Travel Editor
If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know I’ve got a terrible weakness for all things cute and furry. If you’re the same, prepare to have your heart melted.
In this week’s video, we travel to Yunnan to spend some time with the snub-nosed monkeys of Shangri-La. In the White Horse Mountains, Dr Long Yongcheng has devoted his life to studying and protecting the endangered primates.
You may be thinking that you’ve never seen a monkey like this before, and you’d probably be right. There are just five species of snub-nosed monkey left, a fraction of the previously widespread population that’s been squeezed by climate change since the last ice age. Just three species remain in China. Of those, the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey is the most endangered, and sadly the population continues to decline.
They are white when they are born, but soon develop their distinctive shaggy black coat. Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys live at the highest altitude of any primate, except for humans. In snub-nosed society, one male monkey will form a family group with as many females as possible. Mum Monkeys outrank females without children, and males with the most mates gain the highest status. It’s easy to spot the males because of the long hairs on their rumps and their size (being up to twice as big as the females). Why the flat face? No one is really sure – one theory is that the monkeys evolved a flat muzzle evolved to combat frostbitten, exposed noses.
With the help of forest guardians, and a hunting ban in place since the 1970s, monkey numbers in Dr Long Yongcheng’s corner of the forest have almost doubled. Now, the biggest threat to Yunnan’s snub-nosed monkeys is the survival of the forest itself.