Primate Conservation Challenges and Prospects in Northeast India

Text by Dilip Chetry & Rekha Chetry

Photos by Udayan Borthakur

An adult stump-tailed macaque

Primate diversity in the seven sisters of NE

The northeast region of India comprising of the eight states namely Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim is an integral part of the eastern Himalaya bio-diversity hotspot and as such very rich in bio-diversity. The region supports a lion’s share of the India’s bio-diversity. We are primarily describing here the primate diversity of seven states of the region excluding Sikkim.

Primates are a comparatively small but important component of the region’s amazing faunal diversity. The seven states of northeast India is home for 12 out of the total 26 primate species in India. These 12 species belongs to three families (Lorisidae, Cercopitheciade and Hylobatidae) and four genera ( Nyctecebus, Macaca, Trachypithecus and Hoolock).

Slow loris (Nyctecebus bengalensis ) is the sole representative species of Lorisidae family in the region and it is also the only nocturnal species of primate in this part of the country.

The family cercopithecidae has highest 9 species of which 3 species are from subfamily colobinae and 6 species are from subfamily cercopithecinae. The three colobines are Golden langur (Trachypithecus geei), Capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus) and Phayre’s leaf monkey Trachypithecus phayrei). Remarkably, Golden langur is endemic to Assam and southern Bhutan and not found in any other parts of the country including the remaining states of northeast.