Hainan gibbons are the most critically endangered primate with only 30 remaining and all cramped up in a small forest patch on Hainan Island, China. Attempts to breed the animal in captivity didn’t work. This makes the survival of every single gibbon important.
These gibbons use long arms to swing from trees as they have a fear of traveling on the ground. This allows them to gather fruits effortlessly. Logging and forest destruction caused many gibbons to die. Even more gibbon habitat was lost when Typhoon Rammasun struck in May of 2015, causing a huge landslide.
Bosco Pui Lok Chan, manager of the Hainan Gibbon Conservation Project, run by the Botanic Garden and Kadoorie Farm, in Hong Kong, along with some of his colleagues, respond to the situation. Professional Tree Climbers were hired by them to install a rope bridge above damaged forest parts. The bridge contained two mountaineering-grade ropes hung atop a 15.2 meter ravine in the middle of two trees.
At first, the gibbons completely ignored the bridge. It was approximately six months until they finally began using the bridge. This may mean that this rope strategy can also be used in different areas of the forest to help other animals move around too.
Chan believes that adult males may are strong enough to be able to jump across the gully but females and their young may think making the jump would be a risk, so they use the bridge instead. They walk across by walking on one rope and holding the second above their heads to assist in balancing.
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- Bates, M., 2020. Only 30 Of These Primates Remain On Earth. This Simple Rope Bridge May Help.. [online] National Geographic. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/animals/2020/10/only-30-of-these-primates-remain-on-earth-this-simple-rope-bridge-may-help [Accessed 21 November 2020].