Headcount of lion-tailed macaque up

Nearly 750 macaques in the forests of Western Ghats.

This has been brought to light by conservation scientist Dr Honnavalli Kumar who works at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History in Tamil Nadu.

He has been conducting research on the lion-tailed macaque since 2007 in the Sirsi-Siddapura-Honnavara forest belt. There had been a significant fall in the population of these monkeys in the forests of the Western Ghats in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, in the last two decades.

But Kumar’s revelation gives a ray of hope.

The International Union For Conservation of Nature has estimated that there are 3,000 lion-tailed macaques in India.

Kumar undertook research in and around the wildlife sanctuaries in Talacauvery, Pushpagiri and Sharavathi valleys, besides the Sirsi-Siddapura-Honnavara forests. There were 750 macaques in 32 groups in these places.

In the 1980s, the conservation of the lion-tailed macaque had become a major motive for the ‘Save Silent Valley’ movement in Kerala. While in the forests of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the lion-tailed macaque is hunted for food, in Karnataka it is revered.

But rampant deforestation  has put a question mark on the efforts to conserve the animal. Kumar has called for measures to save them from extinction, as the Sirsi-Honnavara forest belt does not come under reserved forests.

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