Guwahati to host Asian Primate Symposium on Feb 8-10

GUWAHATI: The city on the bank of the River Brahmaputra, is going to host the 7th Asian Primate Symposium during February 8 to 10 next on the theme “Conserving Primate Diversity in the Anthropocene: Challenges and Strategies.”

The international symposium (www.aps2020.org)  will be preceded by a Pre Symposium Training (5th, 6thand 7th February) will provide opportunity to the young primatologists to interact with renowned primatologists so as to help them in building their capacity and career.

Primatologists from different corners of the world specially across Asia will get a common platform to share their findings, views and ideas regarding diverse primate related issues through this symposium.

This exchanging of ideas among veteran and budding primatologists will contribute a lot to the field of primatology and will also help in ongoing efforts of conservation and management of non-human primates.

There will be interactions on following sub-themes during the seminar: Primate Biogeography, Ecology & Behaviour, Cognition ,Climate Change and Conservation; Urban Primate Ecology and Human-Primates Interaction; Primate Health, Hygiene, Zoo Management and Conservation Breeding; Primate Phylogeny, Genetics and Forensic; Primate Trades and Trans-boundary issues, Advocacy and Policy Management; Primate in Literature, folklore, Outreach and Training.

India with its rich biodiversity harbours 26 species of non-human primates. Distribution of non-human primates in India covers different phyto-ecological zones in the country. Out of these 26 species, the Nilgiri langur and lion-tailed macaque in western ghats and golden langur in Indo-Bhutan border are endemic.

The Northeast India comprising of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim can be physiographically categorized into the Eastern Himalayas, Northeast hills (Patkai-Naga Hills and Lushai Hills) and the Brahmaputra and Barak Valley plains.

Situated at the confluence of the Indo-Malayan, Indo-Chinese and Indian biogeographical realms, the Northeast India is unique in providing abundant habitat, which feature diverse biota with a high level of endemism.

Out of the total 26 species of non-human primates in India 12 species viz. Bengal slow loris ( Nyctecebusbengalensis), rhesus macaque ( Macacamulatta ), Asssamese macaque ( Macacaassamensis ), Northern pig-tailed macaque ( Macacaleonina ),stump-tailed macaque ( Macacaarctoides ), Arunachal macaque ( Macacamunzala ), white cheeked macaque ( Macacaluecogenys),capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus), golden langur ( Trachypithecusgeei), Phayre’s leaf monkey (Trachypithecusphayrei),western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock)and eastern hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) are from northeast India. Except rhesus macaque, distributions of remaining 11 species are exclusive to the region. The Arunachal macaque (Macacamunzala), which is new to science was discovered only in the year 2005 (Sinha et al 2005) from Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India.

Similarly, distribution of eastern hoolock gibbon from the region is also a very recent reporting (Das et al 2006). The distribution of another species i.e. white cheeked macaque in the region is another most recent finding (Chetry et al.2015).  As per Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, six species viz. Slow loris, capped langur, golden langur, Phayre’s leaf monkey, western hoolock gibbon and eastern hoolock gibbon are Schedule I species and six macaques species are Schedule II, out of these 4 species are Endangered and 8 Vulnerable as per IUCN assessment.

Habitat loss and fragmentation are the key threats for non-human primates and other wildlife in the country. Additionally, there is hunting pressure in some areas especially in Northeast India.

There has been a rising trend in human-monkey conflict in recent years across the country. Crop raiding by monkeys has become a common problem not only in fringe areas of forests but also in other areas. Urban populations of monkeys are also creating problems.

In fact, monkey menace has emerged as crucial issue in certain parts of the country. For the human-monkey coexistence, it is urgently needed to find out the causes of conflicts and potential management methods.

The scientific researches in non-human primates are expanding.  However, emerging issues like impacts of climate change on primates and their habitats, dynamics of human-monkey conflicts and threats of zoonotic diseases, conservation and management aspects of the threatened primates species in changing scenario are need to be understood and addressed.

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