A new species of leaf-eating monkey has been discovered deep in the forests of Myanmar, but there are already fears the population could be on the brink of extinction.
The Popa langur is a member of a monkey group known as Colobine primates, and lives exclusively in Myanmar. It is named after the country’s sacred Mount Popa, an extinct volcano that is now a national park. They live in groups up in trees, and like other Colobines eat mostly fruit and leafy plants.
Scientists from German Primate Center and Fauna & Flora International confirmed the Popa langur was a new species of monkey by watching them in the wild and studying museum specimens dating back 100 years to compare DNA.
But their population is under threat, with only 200-250 monkeys left in the wild, and the research team recommends it is immediately classified as ‘critically endangered’. The largest population of around 100 monkeys live in the Mount Popa park, but illegal hunting and deforestation is still rife even in the protected area, they warned.
Roberto Portela Miguez of the Natural History Museum, which provided museum specimens of the Popa langur for study, said he hoped the discovery would spur Myanmar to do more to save the monkeys. “It reinforces the need for more conservation efforts in that particular area to prevent deforestation and logging and hunting,” he told i. “We have to be hopeful.”
“Additional field surveys and protection measures are urgently required… to save the langurs from extinction,” added Ngwe Lwin, a primatologist with Flora and Fauna International’s Myanmar program.