A team of scientists working at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) recently discovered a rare species. The rare mammal found was a White Cheeked Macaque. The scientists discovered this mammal in an isolated district of Anjaw, Arunachal Pradesh. The department published their discovery in an International journal known as “Animal Gene”.
In 2015, a similar white-cheeked macaque was spotted in China. The species was never seen in the Indian continent before. The white-cheeked macaque mammals are known to have distinct white cheeks. They have a long and thick coat on their neck. Their tail is longer in comparison to any other macaque species.
While speaking to The Indian Express, ZSI scientist, Dr Mukesh Thakur stated that this discovery was an accident. The team had received an allowance of INR 10 crores for another project. The project was about studying the Himalayan species. The project involved exploring and studying the Himalayas’ biodiversity and its threatened species in the region.
He further stated that for the research project, the focus was on Red Pandas and the Arunachal macaque. The Arunachal macaques are present in the eastern Himalayan region.
One of Dr Thakur’s students working on the project was doing intensive research on the Arunachal Macaque. To dig deeper, he even collected samples of macaque’s faeces and skin. After taking these samples to the lab, the team carried out DNA sequencing on them. The faeces samples were expected to be of an Arunachal macaque. But instead, the samples were of a white-cheeked macaque.
To cross-check the facts, DNA sequencing was conducted twice on the same samples. For confirmation, the team installed several cameras in that area. With the help of cameras, a juvenile white-cheeked macaque was spotted. This discovery was a “breakthrough” for all the scientists and researchers.
The Arunachal macaque and the white-cheeked macaques are known to co-exist in the same biodiversity of the eastern Himalayas. There is a higher possibility of these mammals existing in Bhutan.
This discovery will help build a foundation for the species to be included under the Wildlife Protection Act. The white-cheeked macaque is not a part of the Wildlife Protection Act, because the species was never spotted in India before.
Dr Thakur further mentioned that this discovery motivated them to explore more about this particular species. The species is rare and threatened. They require immediate attention as well as protection. The ZSI has already put forward a proposal to monitor these species.