GUWAHATI, Sept 10 - In a development that bodes ill for the State�s conservation spheres, the golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) has now been listed in the IUCN�s world�s 25 most endangered primates.
The reasons attributed to the plummeting population of the golden langur are extensive habitat fragmentation, habitat destruction and encroachment along its distribution range.
Reacting to the development, conservationists have called for immediate elevation of two prime golden langur habitats � Ripu-Chirang and Kakoijana � to wildlife sanctuaries for securing a safe home to the distressed primate species. A charismatic species, it can also be used as a flagship species for the conservation of biodiversity of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) region.
The formal declaration was made at a session under the chairmanship of Dr Russell A Mittermeier (Chair, International Union for Conservation of Natures Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group (IUCN, SSC, PSG) in the joint congress of the International Primatological Society and American Society of Primatologist, which was held at Chicago, USA from August 21 to 27.
An endangered primate, the golden langur is endemic to the semi-evergreen and mixed-deciduous forests of the Indo-Bhutan border. It has already been listed as endangered species in the IUCN Red List (2016) and Schedule-I species in the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
Dr Dilip Chetry, Head of Primate Research and Conservation Division of conservation NGO Aaranyak, attended the conference which included 1,500 participants from 56 countries. Dr Chetry also presented a talk on the golden langur and the hoolock gibbon in Chicago.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Dr Chetri said that the silver lining in the gloom was that it would now serve to put more focus � including global attention � on the golden langur.
�The State Government needs to act quickly and constructively to ensure a safe future for the golden langur. The government should immediately declare Ripu-Chirang (with 590 sq km in Manas Tiger Reserve) and Kakoijana (17 sq km) near Bongaigaon as wildlife sanctuaries, besides bringing some more areas under the protected area (PA) network,� he said.
Emphasising on education and awareness, habitat conservation, connecting different forest fragments by forest corridors, habitat restoration, community participation and trans-boundary conservation issues with Bhutan, Dr Chetri said that political will and public support were critical to the success of any conservation initiative.
�We are hopeful that the people living near golden langur habitats will cooperate wholeheartedly with the Forest Department, researchers, scientists and NGOs for long-term conservation of this beautiful primate, which is also a charismatic species of the BTAD. It can also be used as a flagship species for the conservation of biodiversity of the region,� he added.
In India, the golden langur�s distribution is confined between the rivers Manas in the east, Sankosh in the west, and the Brahmaputra in the south, and it extends to an area over 2,500 sq km. However, rampant deforestation has reduced its habitat to only 1,400 sq km. In Bhutan, its distribution is equally restricted and it is found in central Bhutan ranging between the Sankosh river and the Chamkhar-Mange-Manas river complex.