Monkey Paradise: In Guangxi Provence, just 100km from the Vietnam, Professor Pan Wenshi is lobbying fiercely for tourism to save a colony of white headed leaf monkeys found nowhere else in the world.
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As peasant farmers till the earth, hundreds of feet above their heads on a rocky outcrop the monkeys leap and swing with death-defying abandon. But hemmed in by encroaching human cultivation, the last 700 face extinction. Encouraged by China’s new capitalist mentality, local peasants use monkey conservation land to grow sugar cane; a cash crop that has turned around the economy in the region. Cheered by a gift of wine an elderly villager admits the monkeys are still killed to make a medicinal local beverage. Standing in a muddy field Professor Pan beams as the leader of the peasant farmers agrees to cooperate. He visits the province’s Party Secretary who is credited with Guangxi’s improving prosperity. He smiles and pledges support as Professor Pan demonstrates different monkey calls. Fresh-faced young converts at a local school listen avidly to Professor Pan’s plea for a new attitude to conservation. All are winners in this vision of a tourist boom.
ABC Australia – 336
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