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FLORA AND FAUNA
Officials encouraged by growing numbers of endangered primate in China
by Staff Writers
Beijing (UPI) Aug 13, 2013


Rare white rhino killed by poachers in Kenyan national park
Nairobi, Kenya (UPI) Aug 13, 2013 - A rare white rhino has been shot dead by poachers in one of Kenya's most secure parks, close to Nairobi, wildlife officials say.

It was the first such killing in six years in Nairobi's National Park, described by the Kenyan Wildlife Service as "the only protected area in the world close to a capital city," the BBC reported Tuesday.

Poachers killed the rhino for its horn, wildlife service spokesman Paul Udoto said.

Most horns from poached rhinos end up in the traditional medicine markets of Southeast Asia where it is believed to provide powerful healing properties despite any lack of scientific evidence of such properties, officials said.

Rhino horns are composed of keratin, the same substance found in human fingernails.

Africa has seen an increase in poaching of both rhinos and elephants in recent years; 35 rhinos have been killed in Kenya so far this year, Udoto said, compared to a total of 29 in 2012.

The number of China's snub-nosed monkeys, among the world's most endangered primates, increased from 2,000 to more than 3,000 since the 1990s, officials said.

Chinese scientists reported their findings from a scientific expedition that began in July to study the animals, known in China as Yunnan golden hair monkeys, in mountainous forests in southwest China's Yunnan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Thanks to protection efforts, one group of 200 monkeys observed in an expedition in 1987 has now grown to over 1,800, accounting for more than 60 percent of the world's total, officials said.

The monkeys were close to extinction in the 1980s because local hunters poached them for food or their distinctively colored fur.

Although their population has increased significantly, environmental degradation and inadequate protection mean they are still endangered, Xie Hongfang, head of the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve Administration Bureau, said.

Of the more than 70,000 people who live in the nature reserve region, many are living in poverty and have to compete for resources with the animals in the nature reserve, Xie said.

"Local residents have made their sacrifices to protect the ecological environment and the endangered species," Xie said. "More compensation and support should be given to them to boost their incentive to protect the monkeys."

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