The discovery of a new breeding pair raises hope for the survival of the world's rarest primate, the Hainan Gibbon. Ravaged by deforestation and poaching, the ape now lives only in a patch of forest on China's Hainan island.
Gibbons are known for their ability to swing gracefully through the forest canopy, making loud, haunting calls to mark their territory. Breeding adults sing duets at dawn to enhance bonding. The gibbon forms family groups consisting of one male, two females and their young offspring.
Villagers heard the calls of two gibbons living in a part of the forest away from the main population late last year. A male and a female were later spotted, and heard singing together, showing they had formed a stable bond.
Conservation efforts have been under way at Hainan Bawangling National Nature Reserve since 2003, when the first full census found only 13 individuals living in two groups. Nearly 20 gibbon species exist throughout the world, from northeastern India to Borneo. Most are under threat from the destruction of forests, hunting and illegal trade.