India's newest mammal: White Cheeked Macaque
- Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have found a new mammal species in the country — the White Cheeked Macaque.
- It is the last mammal to have been discovered in Southeast Asia.
- The latest discovery, takes India’s mammal count from 437 to 438.
About White Cheeked Macaque
- It has distinct white cheeks, long and thick hair on the neck and a longer tail than other Macaque species.
- It differs considerably from all macaque species such as Raesus Macaque, Arunachal Macaque, Tibetan macaque and Assamese macaque.
- It has relatively hairless short tail, long and thick hair on its neck and chin-whiskers creating a white cheek, among other characteristics.
- They are threatened by illegal hunting and potential habitat loss.
- Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
- While the Macaque was first discovered in China in 2015, its existence was not known in India before this — it is only now that Indian scientists have discovered its presence in the remote Anjaw district in central Arunachal Pradesh.
- That is barely 200 km aerial distance from where it was first spotted in China — in Modog in Southeastern Tibet.
- Both the Arunachal macaque as well as the White Cheeked Macaque exist in the same biodiversity hotspot in the eastern Himalayas.
- The discovery will also lay the foundation of the species not only being included in the wildlife list but also being covered by the Wildlife Protection Act of India, which presently doesn’t cover.
Other species of Macaque in India and their Conservation Status
- Arunachal Macaque – Macaca munzala (IUCN Red List - Endangered)
- Lion-tailed Macaque – Macaca silenus (IUCN Red List - Endangered)
- Nicobar Long-tailed Macaque/Nicobar Crab-eating Macaque – Macaca fascicularis umbrosus (IUCN Red List - Vulnerable)
- Northern Pig-tailed Macaque – Macaca leonina (IUCN Red List - Vulnerable)
- Stump-tailed Macaque – Macaca arctoides (IUCN Red List - Vulnerable)
- Assamese Macaque – Macaca assamensis (IUCN Red List - Near Threatened)
Indian Mammals listed in the IUCN Red List
- IUCN Red List of Endangered Species lists 126 taxa of Indian mammals in the categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, and Near Threatened.
- These species are threatened with global extinction, and trade in these species is internationally banned.
- Many of these species are endemic to the Indian Subcontinent, which has special relevance for conservation of mammals in India.