Ecology Monkeying Around
Ding Kuanliang has visited the Qinling Mountains a total of 49 times. When he is there, he begins climbing the mountain every morning at 3:00 a.m., with heavy photographic equipment on his back. After about four hours of hiking, he arrives at the habitat of golden (or snub-nosed) monkeys and attempts to capture images of the agile primates. During his most recent trip, after a week of waiting, Ding found over 30 monkeys in the trees facing the cliffs and pointed his camera at the adorable animals.
Ding’s fascination with golden monkeys can be traced back to 2002. That October, Ding ventured to the Qinling Mountains to photograph the giant panda. After two weeks of wandering around, he had only discovered a few footprints and panda dung. The animal has a good sense of smell and will quickly evacuate the area if they sense human activity. Against the backdrop of Qinling’s high ranges, deep valleys and 3 p.m. sunset, about 60 monkeys appeared among golden leaves dancing in the wind. Their appearance seemed like fate for Ding. He instantly began snapping pictures of the jumping sprites. Their graceful movements, pretty light blue faces and funny snub noses left agreeable imprints on Ding’s films. Since then, he has sought out golden monkeys for his photography. Over the past 13 years, Ding spent every vacation lugging 20 kilograms of photography gear to primary habitats of the mammals. He hopes his photos capture the beauty of the nature, inspire more passion for it, save natural resources and create a better environment for wild animals.
Snub-nosed monkeys are most active from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. each morning. In the following four hours, they climb trees to play or groom each other. As rare as the giant panda, the snub- nosed monkey is listed as a species under first- class national protection. They live in a polygamous community. Small clans usually form groups. With snub noses, they eat wild fruits, tender shoots and leaves. At present, five types of snub- nosed monkeys are known: Sichuan snub- nosed monkey (Rhino pit he cu sr ox ella na ), Guizhou snub-nosed monkey( Rhino pit he cu sb relic hi ), Yunnan snub-nosed monkey( Rhino pit he cu sbie ti ), Nujiang snub-nosed monkey( Rhinopithecus strykeri), and Tonk in snub-nosed monkey( Rhino pit he c us avuncul us ). Because the habitat of the Sichuan snub- nosed monkey overlaps the giant panda’s, the monkey’s population recovers as panda reserves are set up. So, compared to other types, the population of the Sichuan snub- nosed monkey is the largest. For Yunnan and Guizhou snub- nosed monkeys, China has also set up national reserves. However, the species’ birth rate is very low: A female golden monkey seldom gives birth to more than one offspring every three or four years, so they are still categorized as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
August in a deep valley in the Qinling Mountains: A Sichuan snub-nosed monkey jumps from a tree and swings from a branch.
At 8 a.m. one June, more than 60 monkeys take a break from traveling downhill in the Qinling Mountains. A male jumps back and forth in the trees and breaks one branch, making rattling sound. Other monkeys turn around to take a look.
Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys inhabit snow- capped mountains 3,300 to 4,700 meters high in Yunnan. They are the primates inhabiting the highest altitudes other than humans, and they are as rare as giant pandas.
The Guizhou snub-nosed monkey is also known as “cattle tail monkey” because its tail is 30 centimeters longer than other golden monkeys. Inhabiting Fanjing Mountain in Guizhou Province, Guizhou golden monkey has a population of about 700. The female usually gives birth to only one offspring every three years. Furthermore, because of yearround rain and cold winters on Fanjing Mountain, the survival rate of the species is low. The Guizhou golden monkey is one of the rarest primates.