The South Asian Life & Times - SALT   
  October-December  2012           



 Oct - Dec '12


Editor's Note


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 Amin Gulgee

Western Ghats
 - A Magical Refuge

  Threatened Dwellers
 of Western Ghats

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 'Snake Man of India'

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Endangered Residents of Western Ghats

Endangered & endemic
Lion-tailed macaque

Alarm bells are ringing in the Western Ghats. All is not well with its rich and diverse wildlife. Some of its star residents are endangered and many more are vulnerable and on their way to becoming endangered. The world has known for a while that the number of Asian elephants and tigers is fast declining in India. There are other creatures, great and small, facing extinction in the Western Ghats. Some are endemic to the area. The bells are louder for them.
SALT focuses on a few and acknowledges with gratitude the information gathered from IUCN Redlist, WWF-India, and PBS.

 (Endemic & Endangered)

The Lion-tailed macaque

Scientific name: Macaca silenus

Status: Endangered.

Appearance: Distinctive manes of grey or brown hair, and shiny black coats. The tail of the lion-tailed macaque can measure nearly two feet in length.

Habitat: Wet evergreen forests, elevations between 610 -1500m (2000 -5000 feet). Endemic to the Western Ghats.
Population: Scant numbers scattered across rainforests like Anamalai in southern India. Less than 4,000 may remain in the wild today.

Largest single population: in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, around 300 animals.

Food habits: Eat fruits, seeds, and insects available yearlong in wet evergreen forests. Particular favourites are jack fruit and cullenia.

Lifestyle: extremely reclusive. Live all their lives in the topmost forest canopy, seldom descending even for water. Live in troops of 10 to 40. Quite noisy, and males have a distinctive cry.

Reproduction: Low birth rate. Females give birth only once in 3 years

Major threat: Two things have put the lion-tailed macaque at risk. First, they seem unable to adapt to the encroachment of human populations. Second, they have extremely low reproductive rates. With the loss and fragmentation of forests, diminished by deforestation, the lion-tailed macaque continues to struggle for its survival. Its shrinking habitat is too small to support the 40 breeding animals that are considered the minimum number required to maintain a healthy gene pool. It is estimated that even the removal of two animals every year from a population of 50 can drive that population to extinction. Hunting & poaching are other major threats. Habitat has been lost to tea, coffee & cardamom plantations and hydroelectric dams.

Protection measures: Conservation of habitat must be the number one priority. Protection against poaching.  Restoration of species.

 Read the entire article in the print edition of The South Asian Life & Times



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