Ecol­ogy Mon­key­ing Around

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Text by Xue­shan Jin­gling Pho­to­graphs by Ding Kuan­liang

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.

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