ITANAGAR- Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered the presence of White-Cheeked Macaque (Macaca leucogenys) in the remote Anjaw district in Arunachal Pradesh. This discovery marks the new addition to mammals of India.
The discovery has been published in the February 3 issue of international peer-reviewed journal ‘Animal Gene’. Along with White-Cheeked Macaques and Arunachal Macaque the other species of Macaques are Assamese Macaque (Macaca assamensis) and Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) reported from the same landscape.With this, India’s mammal count stands at 438.
Zoological Survey of India scientists, led by Mukesh Thakur were searching for red pandas and Arunachal Macaques in central Arunachal Pradesh. It was then that the team unknowingly collected a few faecal samples, which on DNA analysis ended up to be White-Cheeked Macaques.
One student from the team named Avijit Ghosh was tracking the Arunachal macaque when he collected faecal and skin samples of the macaque.
DNA sequencing of the samples was carried out at the Zoological Survey of India lab where it was proved to be that of White Cheeked Macaque.
The team carried out DNA sequencing a second time around to reconfirm it was that of White Cheeked Macaque and not of Arunachal macaque.
ZSI carried out several confirmations through more testing and camera trapping of it. They even discovered a juvenile White Cheeked Macaque.
The White Cheeked Macaque has distinct white cheeks, long and thick hair on the neck and a longer tail than other Macaque species.
Both the Arunachal macaque as well as the White Cheeked Macaque exist in the same biodiversity hotspot in the eastern Himalayas.