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Wildlife Biologists Confirm New Primate Species First Spotted In Arunachal

26 April 2016, 8:17 am EDT By Deepthi B Tech Times
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A relatively newly-discovered species of monkeys, the white cheeked macaque, has been discovered in India. Previously, it was spotted for the very first time in China in 2015.  ( Cheng Li et al | American Journal of Primatology )

The primate monkey species "White Cheeked Macaque," biologically known as "Macaca Leucogenys," has been discovered for the first time in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India.

The wildlife conservation organization Aaranyak confirmed that the discovery was made by a group of biologists and wildlife photographers — Dr. Ranjan Kumar Das, Dr. Dilip Chetry and Udayan Borthakur, along with Binanda Hatibarua, their guide for their bird-watching trip.

This group had visited the Anjaw district in March 2015, wherein they had taken a couple of photographs. On examining the images, they discovered this species that is new to India. It differs considerably from all the other possible macaque species like the Arunachal Macaque, Raesus Macaque, Assamese Macaque and the Tibetan Macaque.

It took the scientific community a year to finally confirm that the spotted species was indeed that of the rare White Cheeked Macaque.

"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," said Dr. Dilip Chetry, primatologist and the head of the Primatology Division at the wildlife NGO Aaranyak, who was part of the group that discovered the species.

The White Cheeked Macaque itself is a species relatively new to the science world. It was discovered for the very first time quite recently in 2015 through photographs by Dr. Cheng Li and his team. The species was spotted in southeastern Tibet, China. The details of the findings had been published in the American Journal of Primatology dated April 2015.

This same primate species discovered in India is absolutely new to the country and the first of its kind — thanks to the amazing discovery made in Arunachal Pradesh.

"Until our discovery this primate species was not known to India. Though we found the species last year, we waited till it is confirmed by experts that the primate species is new to India," said Udayan Borthakur, Head of Aaranyak's wildlife genetics.

Dr. Ranjan Kumar Das, a renowned bird expert, is absolutely over the moon with his discovery. He is thrilled with the opportune moment that his photographic works can greatly contribute toward the better understanding of this rare species.

This discovery is a wonderful revelation and proof of India's rich and diverse fauna, and highlights the need for biodiversity conservation.

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