Rhinopithecus strykeri, also known as the Myanmar Snub-Nosed Monkey or Sneezing Monkey (more on that later), was discovered just recently in 2010. These monkeys are mostly black with long tails that are nearly 1.5 times as long as their body! Since their initial discovery, they have been incredibly hard to study. Their elusive habits and small numbers make them very difficult to spot.
All of the monkeys in the genus have short stubby noses, but R. strykeri’s nose is turned up just a little too far! When it rains, water droplets easily enter the nostrils, causing the animal to sneeze (and there’s where the nickname comes in). This isn’t ideal, because it allows predators to find them more easily. When rain showers set in, the monkeys hide their face in between their knees to breath comfortably and remain hidden.
Unfortunately, the species is categorized as critically endangered, as their population is estimated to be at around 300 members and declining. The monkeys’ largest threat comes from habitat destruction, as illegal loggers are destroying the forests of northern Myanmar. The local people have gotten in violent conflicts with these loggers, but really aren’t a match for those conducting the illegal activity.
On March 28, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) released a special video of about two dozen of these monkeys traveling through the forest’s canopy. This video is incredibly special, because it is the first video to capture these elusive creatures.
The videographer was FFI employee Kaung Haung who was working out in Kachin, Myanmar, coincidentally, to check the still-camera traps that had been set out. The monkeys appeared quite unexpectedly, leaving little time to prepare as he whipped out the camera to record the event. You’ll have to forgive the shaky camera, his hands were understandably trembling with excitement.
This video provides conservationists with critical information about the species. While many leaf-eating monkeys live in small families, this shows a relatively large group of them living together. Larger groups require a greater amount of space, which makes protecting their habitat that much more important. FFI hopes that R. strykeri’s habitat will be designated as a national park in order to protect the trees and the monkeys.