This is a report on a training course introducing the methodology to be used in the Hoolock Gibbon Status Review project (of the Myanmar Conservation Program), which was field tested on a short hoolock gibbon and biodiversity survey in southern Rakhine Yoma, south-west Myanmar. The survey served to fine-tune skills learned by course participants, and as a test run for the project which aims to assess the status of the hoolock gibbons (genus Hoolock) in Myanmar. Although the country still holds large intact areas of prime gibbon habitat and is believed to support the largest remaining populations of hoolock gibbons, there is no significant data on the conservation status of the species in Myanmar. This first survey was carried out during the dry season (November 2008) in southern Rakhine Yoma.
The study confirms the occurrence of hoolock gibbons in what appears to be the southernmost locality recorded so far, and supports their identification as western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock). Hoolock gibbons were confirmed present in very low densities, and several possible explanations for this finding are discussed. However, the main reason for the low density is believed to be low habitat quality. As a further result of the survey, several mammal and bird species were confirmed for the first time for this region of Myanmar, and a potentially new fish species was observed.