Golden Snub-nosed Monkey
Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) is found at several sites in Sichuan but most of our records come from autumn/winter sightings at Tangjiahe, Formerly it was easy to view in the Foping area of Shaanxi, where two habituated groups were fed for both study purposes and a tourist attraction. However, for unknown reasons, during 2019 this was stopped. Finding truly wild animals can take a lot of scanning – troops are relatively silent, and the best indications of their presence are branch movements. The autumn/winter periods give the best opportunities since tree foliage is at its lowest and the monkeys come lower in colder weather. Using scanning we can also pick up troops of Tibetan Macaque in the same habitat but identification at distance is easy since the snub-nosed monkey has a long tail while the macaque’s is very short. Tangjiahe is the best site to see this animal but we also have found at Labahe and the Jiuzhaigou area. It is a China endemic.

 

Golden Snub-nosed Monkey family group
Here showing its shaggy golden pelage which protects against the harsh winter climate.

 

Black Snub-nosed Monkey
Black Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti) also known as Yunnan Snub-nosed is viewed at a single location in NW Yunnan, where a habituated troop are fed as a study group and tourist attraction. This animal is far rarer than Golden Snub-nosed and truly wild troops could only be found in difficult to access terrain in restricted nature reserve areas. With a very restricted Yunnan range it is a China endemic.

 

Black Snub-nosed Monkey family group
Looking very different to Golden Snub-nosed, this alpine species also has to withstand a harsh winter climate

 

Tibetan Macaque
Tibetan Macaque (Macaca thibetana) also known as Chinese Stump-tailed and Milne-Edwards’ Macaque is found at many sites in Sichuan. It is the largest macaque species and where it lives closely associated with tourist activity, they are easily viewed prowling around after the chance to scavenge or steal food scraps. In their wild habitat they can be more difficult to view, with troops roaming forest from canopy to ground level after the chance of feeding opportunities. Seeing branch movement is the best way to find but they are also highly vocal, and troops can be heard at a distance. Highly adaptive, at Tangjiahe and Labahe they are seen around tourist areas where they have become a nuisance. On Emei Mountain they are advertised as tourist attractions and have become highly habituated to a human presence. In rural areas they are often despised as crop stealers and can be persecuted if found around agricultural land. They also show signs of surprising organisation and intelligence. In the Wawu Mountain area, we have observed a conflict between two troops, where one rolled stones down a hill side towards the others, and at Wolong had a large stone rolled, very accurately, down a valley side, in our direction. What was more surprising about that last action was that the stone was flat, but the macaques knew how to roll it (on its thinnest edge – wheel like) for maximum speed and accuracy. Almost a China endemic, it has also been reported from NW India.

 

Black Crested Gibbon
Black Crested Gibbon (Nomascus concolor) is one of the two species of gibbon that it is still possible to find in Yunnan. In the seventies the call of gibbons could still be heard from some towns but massive habitat loss has all but exterminated Northern White-cheeked (animals reported in a forest park seem to be reintroductions and may have been removed) and left only Black Crested and Eastern Hoolock as the only readily viewable species. Black Crested is found in the Wuliang Mountain range and is closely protected and monitored by wardens and researchers. To see the animal, visitors need to access restricted nature reserve areas and for non-Chinese nationals this can be a problem.

 

Black Crested Gibbon young
A young Black Crested feeding on fruit at Wuliang NNR