Macaca assamensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Cercopithecidae

Scientific Name: Macaca assamensis
Species Authority: M'Clelland, 1840
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Assam Macaque, Assamese Macaque
French Macaque D' Assam
Spanish Macaca Del Himalaya
Macaca coolidgei Osgood, 1932
Macaca macclellandii (Gray, 1846)
Macaca problematicus (Gray, 1870)
Macaca rhesosimilis (Sclater, 1872)
Macaca sikimensis (Hodgson, 1867)
Taxonomic Notes: Two distinct subspecies are recognized apart from the M. assamensis population that is endemic to and found in Nepal, and which is likely in some way distinct (Chalise pers. comm.). The two subspecies, M. a. assamensis and M. a. pelops, respectively occupy adjacent areas to the southeast and east of the range of M. assamensis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Boonratana, R., Chalise, M., Das, J., Htun, S. & Timmins, R.J.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Listed as Near Threatened as it is experiencing declines due to hunting and habitat degradation and fragmentation. These declines are significant, but probably are not yet enough to qualify for listing Vulnerable (i.e., 30% over three generations). Almost qualifies as threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:M. assamensis
This taxon occurs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, southwestern China (Guangxi, Guizhou, Tibet and Yunnan), northeastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, northwestern Thailand, and northern Viet Nam. It is found from central Nepal east into northern Myanmar and southeast through southernmost China to the upper Mekong in Tibet, and in the east into southern Guizhou to Hoi Xuan in Viet Nam and Thateng in Lao PDR; the range continues south through the Myanmar/Thailand border ranges as far as Chongkrong, as well as to the Sunderbans in Bangladesh. There is a gap in northeastern India between the two main population pockets, specifically between central Bhutan and the south side of the Brahmaputra; the east bank of its upper course, the Dhibang, marks the division between the two subspecies (Groves 2001).

M. a. assamensis
This taxon occurs in Bhutan, southwestern China (Guangxi, Guizhou, Tibet, and Yunnan), northeastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura), northern Lao PDR, Myanmar, northwestern Thailand, and northern Viet Nam. Found north along the Dihang River and its Tibetan tributary the Ngagong (Groves 2001).

M. a. pelops
This taxon occurs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, northern India (Assam, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) and Nepal. Found from central Nepal through Sikkim and northernmost West Bengal into central Bhutan and the Sunderbans; apparently occurs as well north of the Himalayan crest in the Bhong Valley (Groves 2001).
Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):100
Upper elevation limit (metres):4000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is little information available on the global population, but it is thought to be relatively high. There is decline in the wild populations in certain countries, but not throughout the distribution. It is probably the most common macaque species in Lao PDR, where it is widespread through hill and mountain forest ranges, though no population estimate is available (Duckworth et al. 1999; R. Timmins pers. comm.). In Nepal the taxon is also restricted to less than 300 mature individuals, distributed in eight subpopulations, with no subpopulation having more than 50 mature individuals. There is no information on population estimates from Thailand (R. Boonratana pers. comm.). In northern Myanmar it is a very common species, but information from the eastern part of the country is not available (S. Htun pers. comm.). Due to hunting pressure, macaques in Viet Nam are scarce. However, there is no precise information for this species on population and status (R. Timmins pers. comm.).

The subspecies M. a. assamensis is relatively widespread in its extent of occurrence (Molur et al. 2003). In Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, India, the population was found to have a group density of 1.11/km2, and an average group size of 13.93 individuals (Chetry et al. 2003). This species is the most abundant monkey in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh (Choudhury 2001). In China, there are estimated to be over 3,000 individuals (Zhang et al. 2002).

The subspecies M. a. pelops is only found in adjacent populations in India, Bhutan, and adjacent China. There are likely less than 1,000 individuals remaining (Zhang et al. 2002).

A subpopulation of M. assamensis is endemic to Nepal and relegated to a single population there, and is considered as a possible new subspecies (M. Chalise pers. comm.). However, further taxonomic clarification is needed.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is diurnal and omnivorous, and at times both arboreal and terrestrial. It prefers dense forest (Choudhury 2001), and does not usually occur in secondary forest.

It is found in tropical and subtropical semi-evergreen forests, dry deciduous and montane forest (Srivistava and Mohnot 2001; R. Boonratana pers. comm.). Particular habitats and niches vary some depending on the subspecies. This species is found from the floodplains to the high mountains, up to 2,800 m, and sometimes 3,000 m in the summer (Choudhury 2001), and perhaps up to 4,000 m (Srivastava and Mohnot 2001; Zhang et al. 2002). It is generally an upland species, and usually associated with hill areas above 1,000 m. In the wetter east the species may also frequent areas that do not or only marginally reach 1,000 m and may occur even in the lowlands. In Lao PDR and Viet Nam the species is predominantly associated with high altitudes, usually above 500 m. In forests on limestone karst the species occurs in much lower elevations (R. Timmins pers. comm.). The generation of this species is 10-12 years (Molur et al. 2003)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The threats to this species' habitat include selective logging and various forms of anthropogenic development and activities, alien invasives, and hunting and trapping for sport, “medicine,” food, and the pet trade. Additionally, hybridization with adjacent species poses a threat to some populations (Molur et al. 2003). Although it has a wide distribution, the species is considered to be threatened in most parts of its range. Habitat destruction is the primary cause of the decline.

Habitat destruction poses the greatest risk to this species in northeastern India (Srivistava and Mohnot 2001). However, it has been hunted in the Himalayan regions of North Bengal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh, where it frequently invades crops (Srivistava and Mohnot 2001). Locals use skulls as an “evil eye” in front of houses in northeastern India (Das pers. comm.). There has been extensive habitat loss over the last 15 years in several states of northeastern India (from 30-60%), with major impacts on M. a. assamensis.

The Nepal population of Macaca assamensis is threatened due to its restricted distribution of less than 2,200 km2 extent of occurrence and 914 km2 area of occupancy and continuing decline in area, extent and quality of habitat, the number of locations and in the number of mature individuals—the latter two conditions being inferred from threats to habitat and population from degradation and hunting, respectively. Given its restricted extent of occurrence, threats on its population and habitat, and small numbers in fragmented patches, the Nepal population of this macaque is categorized as Endangered.

In Thailand habitat loss is the primary threat, hunting for food less so (R. Boonratana pers. comm.). It is protected only in temples.

In eastern Myanmar habitat loss is the primary threat, but hunting is presumed to occur. They are hunted to make footwear, and the skins are taken to Tibet as it is more profitable than taking it to Yunnan province of China. In northern Myanmar, hunting and habitat loss due to conversion are the major threats. There is more than 30% decline in forest cover over the last 30-35 years. The combination of habitat loss and hunting heavily impacts the subpopulations, and the threats are likely to continue in the next three decades if the demand for this continues in Tibet (S. Htun pers. comm.).

In Lao PDR and Viet Nam the primary threat is hunting for food and for bones to make balm and/or glue. The bones are not used within Lao PDR, but sold to Viet Namese and traders within Lao PDR. The balm is used for pain relief and other speculative “medicinal” purposes. The trade also goes into China (R. Boonratana pers. comm.). This species has declined in Viet Nam and Lao PDR in the last 30-35 years by more than 30%, and is expected to continue to decline in the future.

In Tibet the habitat is good, but there is some hunting, and no detailed data exists for M. a. pelops from that region of China (Z. Zhou et al. pers. comm.). For M. a. assamensis, hunting is a major threat. Logging has ceased, but was a major threat for the last 30 years. Conversion to pastures is still ongoing, but not a significant threat. There are extensive habitats still left for this subspecies and the taxon is relatively safe.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed in Appendix II of CITES (Chetry et al. 2003). It is legally protected in all countries of occurrence. For the populations that reside in India, the species is listed under Schedule II, part I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (amended up to 2002) (Chetry et al. 2003). In Bangladesh it is listed as Schedule III in the Bangladesh Wildlife (Preservation) (Amendment) Act, 1974. In Myanmar it is legally protected according to the 1994 Wildlife Protection Law. In Thailand the species is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act, 1960.

The species has been recorded from at least 41 protected areas in northeastern India, and maybe four others (Choudhury 2001), and may also be found in the following protected areas: Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area (Lao PDR); Langtang National Park, Makalu Barun National Park (Nepal); Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Phu Khieo Widlife Sanctuary (Thailand); Pu Mat National Park (Viet Nam).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.2. Problematic native species/diseases -> 8.2.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.1. Hybridisation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Wearing apparel, accessories
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Chalise, M. 2003. Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis) in Nepal. Primate Conservation 19: 99-107.

Chetry, D., Medhi, R., Biswas, J., Das, D. and Bhattacharjee, P. C. 2003. Nonhuman primates in the Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, India. International Journal of Primatology 24(2): 383-388.

Choudhury, A. 2001. Primates in Northeast India: An overview of their distribution and conservation. ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife and Protected Areas 1(1): 92-101.

Duckworth, J.W., Salter, R.E. and Khounboline, K. 1999. Wildlife in Lao PDR: 1999 Status Report. IUCN, Vientiane, Laos.

Groves C. 2001. Primate Taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Jiang, X. l., Wang, Y. X. and Ma, S. l. 1993. Taxonomic revision of Macaca assamensis. Dongwuxue Yanjiu Zoological Research 14(2): 110-117.

Molur, S., Brandon-Jones, D., Dittus, W., Eudey, A., Kumar, A., Singh, M., Feeroz, M. M., Chalise, M., Priya, P. and Walker, S. 2003. Status of South Asian Primates: Conservation Assessment and Managment Plan Report. Workshop Report, 2003. Zoo Outreach Organization/CBSG-South Asia, Coimbatore, India.

Srivastava, A. and Mohnot, S.M. 2001. Distribution, conservation status and priorities for primates in Northeast India. ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife and Protected Areas 1(1): 102-108.

Wada, K. 2005. The distribution pattern of rhesus and Assamese monkeys in Nepal. Primates 46(2): 115-119.

Zhang, Y., Chen, L., Qu, W. and Coggins, C. 2002. The Primates of China: Biogeography and Conservation Status. Asian Primates 8(1-2): 20-22.

Citation: Boonratana, R., Chalise, M., Das, J., Htun, S. & Timmins, R.J. 2008. Macaca assamensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T12549A3354977. . Downloaded on 22 January 2017.
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