GERMAN scientists say they have discovered a new endangered ape species in the tropical rainforests of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos after identifying it by its distinctive song.
The new type of crested gibbon, one of the most endangered primate species in the world, is called the northern buffed-cheeked gibbon, or Nomascus annamensis, the German Primate Centre said in a statement.
In Cambodia, the gibbon lives in Virachey National Park in the northeast, according to Christian Roos, who led the three-year project. “An analysis of the frequency and tempo of their calls, along with genetic research, show that this is, in fact, a new species,” the statement said.
“The discovery of a new species of ape is a minor sensation,” Roos said.
“As a scientist, I am very excited, but as a conservationist, I am disappointed because of all the problems that come with this we need to solve.”
Roos credited Van Ngoc Thinh, a Vietnamese doctoral student at Göttingen’s primate centre, for doing “most of the real work in the lab and the field”.
There is “no real estimate” of how many buffed-cheeked gibbons there are, Roos said. He said that due to major threats such as illegal hunting, illegal logging and the construction of roads and dams – even in protected areas – he expected gibbon populations to “decrease dramatically”.
The DPZ noted: “Gibbons are kept as cute pets, or they are eaten, or they are processed into traditional medicines.”
Prior to the discovery, scientists had previously assumed there were six different species of crested gibbons. Gibbons belong to the family of apes, mankind’s closest relative. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP