IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Newly discovered primate in Myanmar ‘already facing extinction’

11th November, 2020 Environment

Context: Trachypithecus popa is threatened by hunting and habitat loss

  • In a rare find, scientists have identified a new species of primate, a lithe tree-dweller living in the forests of central Myanmar with a mask-like face framed by a shock of unruly grey hair.
  • The Popa langur — named for an extinct volcano home to its largest population, some 100 individuals — has been around for at least a million years.

  • But with only 200 to 250 left in the wild, experts will recommend that the leaf-eating species be classified as “critically endangered”.
  • Throughout its range, the lithe monkey with chalk-white rings around its eyes is threatened by hunting and habitat loss.
  • The first evidence of the new species was found not in the wild but the backrooms of the London Natural History Museum, where genetic analysis revealed that specimens gathered more than a century ago when Burma was a British colony were something new.
  • They have distinctive fur colouration and markings.
  • Trachypithecus popa, or T. popa for short, has a grey-brownish and white belly, with black hands and wrists that look a bit like gloves.
  • Its agile tail — at nearly a metre — is longer than its body, with the creature weighing about eight kilograms.
  • There are more than 20 species of langur in the world, several of them critically endangered.