The Dracula monkey comes back to Borneo to haunt us!
One of the rarest and least known primates in the world, Miller’s Grizzled Langur, has been found alive recently – it was thought the species had been obsolete in 2004. The species has a distinctive dark face and white, Dracula-esque ‘collar’ of fur.
The endangered monkey was discovered living in the Wehea Forest, East Kalimantan, Borneo, a largely undisturbed rainforest where it was previously not known to exist.
Brent Loken, from Simon Fraser University Canada, said: ‘While our finding confirms the monkey still exists in East Kalimantan, there is a good chance that it remains one of the world’s most endangered primates.’
‘I believe it is a race against time to protect many species in Borneo. It is difficult to adopt conservation strategies to protect species when we don’t even know the extent of where they live.’
The Miller’s Grizzled Langur is part of the small primate genus Presbytis, found across Borneo, Sumatra, Java and the Thai-Malay Peninsula.
In Borneo, found in a small area in the country’s north east, it’s habitat was harmed by fires, human habitation, and conversion of land and mining.
A team of scientists had a meeting with the monkey when trekking through the 38,000 hectare rainforest which contains at least nine known species of non-human primate, including the Bornean orangutan and gibbon.
Mr Loken said: ‘Discovery of P.h canicrus was a surprise since Wehea Forest lies outside of this monkey’s known range.
‘Future research will focus on estimating the population density for P.h. canicrus in Wehea and the surrounding forest.’
‘Concern that the species may have gone extinct was first raised in 2004, and a search for the monkey during another expedition in 2008 supported the assertion that the situation was dire.’
While watching mineral licks in an area where animals congregate and setting up camera traps, was when they spotted the monkey, west of its previously recorded geographical range.
Mr Loken said: ‘It was a challenge to confirm our finding as there are so few pictures of this monkey available for study.’
‘The only description of Miller’s Grizzled Langur came from museum specimens. Our photographs from Wehea are some of the only pictures that we have of this monkey.’
Dr Stephanie Spehar, from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, added: “East Kalimantan can be a challenging place to conduct research, given the remoteness of many remaining forested areas, so it isn’t surprising that so little is known about this primate.
‘We are very grateful to our local partners.
‘This discovery represents the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of Western and Indonesian scientists, students, NGOs, as well as local communities and government.
The team’s findings are published in the American Journal of Primatology.