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Popular primate still a major figure in tales told by local people

By ZHANG WENFANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-24 07:37
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A Yunnan snub-nosed monkey named Bailian, or White Face, was a superstar within his troop in Xiangguqing village, Dechen Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Yunnan province. Local people have many appealing anecdotes about him that they tell time and time again.

The primate lived for 30 years, which is almost equivalent to 90 human years. However, in October, Bailian was found dead in the wild.

In his prime as a commanding alpha male, he had a large family with four wives and three offspring. However, in 2012, he was challenged and defeated by a younger, stronger monkey.

He was replaced as one of the troop leaders, and all his children and wives left him, with one exception. A female monkey, who was 10 years older than Bailian, stayed with him, and the male monkey took good care of her until she died in 2016.

Overwhelmed by grief, Bailan groomed her fur as usual and carried her body with him when he moved with the other monkeys in the troop.

When forest rangers removed the decaying body, Bailian tried to stop them — baring his teeth and howling as if in great pain.

Male monkeys must fight to win mates. In 2014 and 2016, Bailian helped two peers to win their chance to establish family groups.

In 2019, after three more years of nomadic life, he formed his second family, this time with a 6-year-old female, and fathered an infant the following year.

However, his happiness was short-lived. In October 2020, Bailan broke his legs in a fight and lost his family once again.

Rescued by forest rangers, he resumed his nomadic lifestyle until his death.


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