New species of primate spotted in Arunachal Pradesh

Guwahati, April 24: A new species of primate--White Cheeked Macaque--has been spotted in Arunachal Pradesh by a group of wildlife photographers and biologists from North East India.

The White-cheeked Macaque (Macaca leucogenys) was first spotted at the Anjaw district, nestled in the Eastern corner of Arunachal Pradesh by a team of biologists and wildlife photographers comprising Dr Ranjan Kumar Das, Udayan Borthakur and Dr Dilip Chetry, a press release issued by wildlife conservation organisation Aaranyak said today.


The team, accompanied by professional bird guide Binanda Hatibarua, was on a birdwatching trip to the area in eastern most district of India in March 2016, when they made the sighting. On the basis of photographs of a group of macaque taken during the trip, it has been confirmed to be the White-cheeked Macaque, the release said.

The White-cheeked Macaque itself is a species new to science, first reported by Dr Li Cheng and his group from the Modog in South-eastern Tibet in China in 2015.

The species has been discovered on the basis of photographic records and differs considerably from all potential sympatric macaque species, such as Raesus Macaque, Arunachal Macaque, Tibetan macaque and Assamese macaque.

It exhibits a suit of pelage characteristics including relatively uniform dorsal hair pattern, hairy ventral pelage, relative hairless short tail, prominent pale to white side- and chin-whiskers creating a white cheek and round facial appearance, dark facial skin on the muzzle, long and thick hair on its neck, and round rather than arrow-shaped male genitalia.

A renowned bird expert Dr Ranjan Kumar Das who was able to get one of the first photographs of this species during the trip said, "I am truly excited to be a part of this discovery and to contribute to the understanding of the species through my photography work."

"On the basis of our observations, the photographs and experts' comments, we have come to the conclusion that the macaques we observed and photographed in Anjaw District of Arunachal Pradesh are White-cheeked Macaque", Primatologist Dr Dilip Chetry said.


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