The Nangunhe Nature Reserve in Southwest Yunnan (PRC) has long been presumed to be the last stronghold of white-handed or lar gibbons (Hylobates lar) in China and the likely last place of occurrence of the taxon Hylobates lar yunnanensis.
In 2007, we launched a comprehensive survey to confirm the presence and assess the status of white-handed gibbons at Nangunhe.
We found no visual or auditory evidence of white-handed gibbons still residing at the reserve and therefore tentatively conclude that white-handed gibbons have become extinct in China and the subspecies Hylobates lar yunnanensis may not exist anymore.
It appears that large-scale destruction of primary forests in the 1960s and 1970s has brought about an initial decline in numbers of white-handed gibbons, and subsequent uncontrolled hunting has resulted in their extirpation.
Kunming Institute of Zoology,
Gibbon Conservation Alliance