The golden creatures of Shennongjia

Updated: 2016-06-11 02:32

By Liu Kun,Liu Xiangrui(China Daily)

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The golden creatures of Shennongjia

Huang Yuanpeng's fellow researchers from Shennongjia Golden Monkeys Protection and Research Center check on the monkeys.

Twelve researchers give their all to save an endangered species

Home is where the heart is, which raises a burning question for Huang Yuanpeng: Who pulls his heartstrings hardest — his wife and 3-year-old son or those strange creatures in the forest he has decided to devote his life to?

The group of animals that Huang, 34, has spent the past 10 years doing research on at Shennongjia Golden Monkeys Protection and Research Center high in the mountains of Shennongjia National Nature Reserve in Hubei province are as rare as pandas: golden snub-nosed monkeys that are found nowhere other than China.

Huang visits his home in a nearby town, where his wife takes care of their son, almost every month, but the transport logistics make it hard for some of the other 11 researchers aged from 20 to 60 from distant regions to go back home regularly.

They take turns to have four days off each month and even spend the traditional Chinese New Year looking after the monkeys.

And that self-sacrificing care seems to be paying off, for the group of snub-nosed monkeys he has been looking after has grown from about 50 to more than 90 over 10 years.

"I'm really happy to see that," Huang beams. "Our work has paid off."

Golden snub-nosed monkeys are distinguished by their bright fur, graceful movements, and gentle nature. They were once widely distributed throughout China but have retreated to high mountains because of changes in the environment.

They are critically endangered because of habitat destruction and human hunting, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed them as a rare animal species. China has classified them as a first-grade State-protected animal.

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