, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 277–286 | Cite as

Taxonomy, distribution, and status of gibbons (Hylobates) in Southern China and adjacent areas

  • Shilai Ma
  • Yingxiang Wang
  • Frank E. Poirier


Gibbons are small and arboreal apes restricted to southeastern tropical and southern subtropical regions in Asia. They are distributed from Assam in the northwest, eastward to south China and Vietnam, south through the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and the Mentawai Islands. Twenty-two genetically distinct populations of gibbons are generally recognized.

Gibbons were once widely distributed in China; however, they are now primarily restricted to southern and southwestern Yunnan and Hainan Island. Their widest distribution and greatest species diversity is in Yunnan Province. Gibbons are rare in China and are now listed as a first class endangered species.

Four gibbon species inhabit Yunnan Province in southern China. They areH. hoolock, H. lar, H. leucogenys, andH. concolor. There are three subspecies ofH. leucogenys: H. l. leucogenys, H. l. siki, andH. l. gabriellae. OnlyH. l. leucogenys inhabits China. Four subspecies ofH. concolor inhabit China. These areH. c. concolor, H. c. jingdongensis, H. c. furvogaster, andH. c. hainanus. The first three subspecies inhabit Yunnan andH. c. hainanus is found only on Hainan Island.H. lar yunnanensis is the subspecies ofH. lar in southern China.H. hoolock leucogenys is the subspecies ofH. hoolock in southern China.H. concolor jingdongensis, H. concolor furvogaster, andH. lar yunnanensis are all newly proposed subspecies byMa andWang (1986).

The data on southern China gibbons presented here is based on an analysis of the skeletons and skins of 49 specimens held at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Kunming, Yunnan.

Key Words

China Gibbon Species Subspecies Taxonomy 


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shilai Ma
    • 1
  • Yingxiang Wang
    • 1
  • Frank E. Poirier
    • 2
  1. 1.Kunming Institute of ZoologyAcademia SinicaKunmingPeople's Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusU.S.A.

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