New species of macaque in Tibet faces danger from dams?
April 27, 2015
The Echo of India
A new species of macaque has been discovered in Tibet by Chinese wildlife experts, who warned that their habitats faced danger from hydro power projects in the Himalayan region.
The new monkey species - found in southeast Tibet's Modog County - has been named the white-cheeked macaque.
Although the discovery was only published last month on the website of American Journal of Primatology, experts say it is already feeling the stress of human encroachment and activities.
Chinese wildlife photographer Li Cheng first identified the new species after he heard its call in the woods in 2012, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
"It was a high-pitched 'Yi-ou' - I had never heard such a call from a macaque before," Li recalls.
However, the group of around 10 macaques vanished into the woods before he could make them out.
Discoveries of new species of mammals - especially primates - are rare, says Li Baoguo, president of the China Primatological Society.
"The white-cheeked macaque is the second new species of macaque recorded in the past century. This discovery is significant in the study of biodiversity changes caused by human activities," Li said.
It also highlights the need for biodiversity conservation in southeast Tibet, said Li, who wants more intensive surveys, studies and environmental protection in the area.
"We will look for excrement or fur of the animal for DNA testing to understand it better, and we'll further explore its habitat and distribution," says Peng.
Ranging from tropical forest to alpine conditions, Modog is a biodiversity-rich area in the eastern Himalayan region.
Though slash-and-burn land clearance has long been prohibited in Modog, it is still threatened by human activity, the research article said.
The hunting traditions of local minority groups, such as the Menba and Luoba, used to include hunting macaques, according to long-time expert Guo Guangpu, a lecturer at the School of Life Sciences and Technology, Tongji University.??
Awareness of the need for ecological protection has grown in recent years, but some people still use wire snares to capture wild animals, including macaques, he says.
Local government plans to build hydropower stations could also affect the macaques' habitat, the article said.
Guo wants hydropower projects to fully consider the possible ecological impacts and avoid flooding extensive areas of forest, which could be home to the white-cheeked macaque and other unique creatures.
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