May 30, 2023

A guided tour on the InterContinental Danang gives an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of many rarest primates on the planet

This most likely sounds a bit of daft, however I’ve come to a luxurious five-star resort in Vietnam to see monkeys.

However not simply any outdated monkeys. 

Not these blasted macaques like those that attempt to sit in your head on the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud or those that bathe within the sizzling springs of snowy Nagano Prefecture in Japan.

When you may have the accountability of being set in a nature reserve like this, you’re actually taking up a whole lot of accountability

I’ve come to the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in central Vietnam in hope of catching a glimpse of the extra civilized and far rarer red-shanked douc langur.

Vietnam has probably the most numerous populations of primates on the planet and is house to a few kinds of douc langur – all of that are critically endangered. 

Inhabitants research within the jungles of Son Tra Peninsula the place the resort is situated simply half-hour by automobile from Danang Worldwide Airport estimate 1,500 red-shanked douc langurs dwell right here. In complete, it’s believed there are simply 2,000 in Vietnam, so I’ve undoubtedly come to the proper spot.

However I’m not on this mission alone right now to see these shy creatures of the treetops who, I surprisingly be taught, don’t eat ripe fruit as a result of they will’t digest sugar with out it fermenting of their fairly rotund bellies and inflicting one hell of a stomach ache.

As a substitute, I’ve acquired resident British zoologist Anthony Barker taking me on a private tour of the 39 hectare property in one of many resort’s electrical buggies that cart friends forwards and backwards to their rooms throughout their keep.

“The doucs are nearly solely arboreal, apart from consuming the odd piece of unripe fruit,” he tells me from behind the wheel as we fastidiously negotiate our well beyond a buggy stuffed with friends heading the alternative method for breakfast, “so that they very hardly ever come to the ground of the forest.”

I crane my neck to lookup into the plush cover of foliage above us that rises some 700 meters above sea degree and blankets 60 sq. kilometers of pristine wilderness simply 10 kilometers outdoors of Danang and marvel if right now shall be my fortunate day.

“We attempt to educate friends and different guests that the red-shanks aren’t regular monkeys just like the macaques we even have on the peninsula that eat nearly every little thing,” he says. 

Anthony himself is a uncommon species. He’s stated to be considered one of only a few resident zoologists at resorts around the globe, so I really feel like I’m in good arms as we zig-zag our method alongside the slim paths of the steep mountain on which this beautiful resort is constructed. 

He’s additionally the current recipient of the World Tourism Community (WTN) Tourism Hero Award in recognition of his excellent conservation efforts that embody collaboration with native authorities and NGOs on initiatives and the training of communities and employees members on the resort concerning the significance of conservation.  

“It actually is among the solely locations on the planet the place you may see them as a result of the opposite populations have been so disturbed – they don’t like people very a lot in any respect,” he tells me with one eye on the place we’re going and the opposite searching for telltale indicators like half-eaten leaves, discarded branches and poop that point out these long-limbed and slender leaf-eaters could also be inside shut proximity to us.

However as Anthony factors out the tropical almond timber which might be a favorite of the red-shanks’ and the pure bridges they supply so the inhabitants doesn’t get fragmented and “islanded” giving them entry to feeding timber and “house timber” on the resort grounds throughout the stormy season, one thing tells me I could not get an opportunity to see these most good-looking of animals right now. The solar is already getting increased and warmer, greater than probably forcing them deeper into the cool of the shade elsewhere on the mountain.

I nonetheless marvel if we’re being watched, although and ask Anthony if human encroachment on their habitat is the primary purpose why red-shanked douc langurs change to excessive alert at any time when they arrive into contact with people.

“Considered one of their important threats is poaching as a result of they’re prized on the black marketplace for conventional Chinese language medication,” he explains. “They’re equally valued to rhino horns, however with the red-shanks, it’s for his or her brains. It’s believed that consuming their brains has magical properties for human well being.”   

WATCH: Journey concepts to your subsequent journey to central Vietnam

Certainly, Vietnam has a critical poaching downside that has left a few of its 27 completely different species of primates on the verge of extinction. It’s believed, for instance, that simply 67 Cat Ba langurs close to the World Heritage Web site of Ha Lengthy Bay in northern Vietnam stay.

Whereas not underneath such instant menace as their northern cousins, the red-shanked douc langur, so named due to its rusty red-coloured legs from the knees down, stays a goal of poachers and is at-risk of better habitat loss from tourism over-development round Danang. 

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“One of the best factor is training with regards to this,” says Anthony who understands higher than anybody his juggling act of being a champion of conservation whereas representing a property that has been criticized prior to now for encroaching on the habitat of the very endangered species he’s now working onerous to guard. 

“What I’m attempting to do is ready an instance right here for different properties in the same state of affairs, as a result of when you may have the accountability of being set in a nature reserve like this, you’re actually taking up a whole lot of accountability. The world is turning into extra crowded, so we actually must give you conservational methods through which we will dwell harmoniously with nature. I might find it irresistible if different properties may make a stand like we have now right here and begin implementing methods they will have a relationship whereby people and wildlife profit collectively.”

Certainly, since Anthony arrived in 2019, the douc langur inhabitants has flourished, constructing on the efforts of the resident zoologist earlier than him. And importantly, poaching makes an attempt on the peninsula, at the least within the proximity of the resort, have all however been eradicated. 

He’s even witnessed the uncommon phenomenon of two units of twins being born into the inhabitants over the previous couple of years, together with the enviable privilege of having the ability to usually monitor a wholesome household with greater than 20 members that spends numerous hours feeding within the timber Anthony and the resort have protected and nurtured particularly for them.

As well as, he’s overseen the planning, growth and building of the Discovery Centre on the resort on account of open this 12 months which won’t solely goal to coach youthful generations of Vietnamese concerning the distinctive range of their nation’s treasured primate populations, but additionally drive funding campaigns for additional analysis into them in collaboration with NGOs like GreenViet to allow them to proceed doing the superb work they do.

“I wish to suppose we’re serving to,” Anthony says as he pulls up the buggy out entrance of my room after an enlightening tour that has impressed upon me the significance of conserving such fantastic animals and the way resorts and the journey trade at-large can play an integral function in doing so. 

Whereas I haven’t acquired to see or have an in depth encounter with any of the monkeys he’s instructed me a lot about, I depart considering it’s most likely for the most effective anyway. 

Observe Matt on Instagram at @mattcowansaigon

All images offered by InterContinental Danang

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