Tag Archives: monkey balm

Biodiversity challenge – Cat Ba langur

Bay window of opportunity

Cat Ba langur by Dao Van Hoang https://www.behance.net/daovanhoang

Fewer than five dozen
Not-so-distant cousins.
Fifty-nine steps
Down to
Golden silence.
No relief
From loggers, poachers,
Habitat encroachers.
How to keep them all at bay?
No way.
Beyond belief
To turn a primate into paste;
It boils down to a tragic waste.
They won’t be
Safe from harm
Until the long arm
Of the monkey balm brigade
Is cut off in its prime.
So where’s the punishment
To fit the crime?
Running out of time
To stop the hunters
And their punters.
How long left
Before Ha Long’s bereft?
Can Cat Ba’s
Langur
Linger
Longer?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Cat Ba langur

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The Cat Ba or golden-headed langur is one of the world’s most endangered primates, confined to a single island in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay. This spectacular leaf-eating monkey has almost been wiped out by a combination of poaching and destruction or degradation of its forest habitat. It is hunted not for its meat, which is considered unappetising, but for use in traditional medicine, where its body is boiled down and turned into cao khi (monkey balm), which is claimed to have soothing properties. The population had crashed from several thousand to just 53 individuals before the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project began in 2000. Since then, poaching has been almost non-existent and numbers have increased to an estimated 59, but low reproductive rates and the dangers of inbreeding mean that the future of the species remains in the balance.