India’s Newest Mammal: White Cheeked Macaque
The Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have found a new mammal species in the country — the White Cheeked Macaque (Macaca leucogenys).
- While the species 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.
- The latest discovery takes India’s mammal count from 437 to 438.
- The White Cheeked Macaque has distinct white cheeks, long and thick hair on the neck and a longer tail than other Macaque species.
- It is the last mammal to have been discovered in Southeast Asia.
- Both the Arunachal macaque as well as the White Cheeked Macaque exist in the same biodiversity hotspot in the eastern Himalayas.
- Along with White-Cheeked Macaques and Arunachal Macaque (Macaca munzala) the other species of Macaques are Assamese Macaque (Macaca assamensis) and Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) reported from the same landscape.
- The potential threat to all species of macaques in the landscape are due to hunting by locals for consumption and habitat degradation due to urbanisation and infrastructure development.
- This species is not covered by the Wildlife Protection Act of India, because till now it is not known that the species existed in India.