Dian Fossey, the woman which dedicated her life to learning and maintaining the mountain gorilla, has been recognized on Thursday with a Google Doodle.
Jan. 16 would certainly be Fossey’s 82nd birthday.
Fossey had an early love of animals and, in 1963, while on a six-week sabbatical in Africa, satisfied the world-famous palaeontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. Leakey thought that even more research was needed on the great apes. Urged Fossey to examine mountain gorillas. That meeting would certainly alter her life.
The gibbons, also known as small or lesser apes, are found in China, India and Southeast Asia. The Chinese white-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar yunnanensis) lived in China and Myanmar. Tree-dwellers, gibbons live in tropical rainforests and feed on fruits, leaves and small animals.
The sixteen species of gibbon are facing some of the same challenges as their kin, the great apes. Those threats include forest habitat fragmentation and degradation and being hunted for food and pelts. But the gibbons have one challenge the great apes don’t - lack of awareness of their existence.Little Known Apes
Most people name several, if not all, of the great apes and know something about their habitat or behavior. But the gibbon family, which includes siamangs, doesn’t have the visibility that Jane Goodall, Birute Galdikas and Dian Fossey were able to give the chimps, orangutans and gorillas. Bonobos, the least studied of the great apes, are better known than the gibbons.
Even within the scientific community, the gibbons have received less attention than the great apes. Detailed study of small apes is limited, with some gibbon species having not been studied at all in the wild. This makes protecting them more difficult as no one knows what critical habitat is for the species.
Two things are known. The gibbons need tree top corridors to travel from one area to another. Fragmented forests isolate the lesser apes from each other. Each family group protects its territory, so when appropriate habitat is limited, new family groups can’t be formed.The White-handed Gibbon
The white-handed gibbon species is considered Lower Risk/near threatened. This means that the species is close to being listed as Vulnerable to Extinction. But within the white-handed gibbon species, the Yunnan subspecies is listed as Critically Endangered.
White-handed gibbons had been found in several forest areas of China’s Yunnan province but were last actually seen within the Nangunhe Nature Reserve in 1988.
Researchers from the Gibbon Conservation Organization didn’t find any white-handed gibbons within China during this latest survey. There is, however, a slim hope that a few members of the subspecies still exist in Myanmar but it is not highly likely.Other gibbons in China in Danger of Extinction
The Northern White-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogneys ssp leucogneys), which was also found in Yunnan province, is listed as Endangered and may be extinct within China as well. Remnant populations of this species are found in northern Vietnam and Laos.
The Hainan crested gibbon...
Though Fossey first began to study the gorillas in the Congo, as a result of a civil war within the country she moved her research to Rwanda. In 1967, she established the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans, about 10,000 feet above sea level.
Fossey learnt and lived amongst the gorillas for 18 years. She encountered severe battles, including her anxiety of elevations, condition, torrential rains. Gorilla poachers.
Her research study of the gorillas encompassed thousands of hours which contributed unbelievable understanding in to the lives of the animals.
In 1983, she released guide Gorillas in the Mist which ended up being a global bestseller. The book was later on turned into a flick starring Sigourney Weaver and attained prevalent excellence. The majority of significantly, it increased the profile of Fossey’s job at the preservation and study of the mountain gorilla.
Fossey was located hacked to death in her cabin at the age of 53 on Dec. 26, 1985, in Karisoke.