Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

This New Monkey Species Is Already Critically Endangered

This New Monkey Species Is Already Critically Endangered
A Popa langur. Photo credit: ©Thaung Win

A new species of primate has been discovered in Myanmar, and it is already extremely endangered.

In a study published in Zoological Research, scientists described the species for the first time. The Popa langur (Trachypithecus popa) is a type of langur, or leaf-eating monkey, with a black face and white circles around the eyes, according to BBC News. But there are only 200 to 250 of the animals left in the wild, and they live in four isolated populations.

"Sadly this is a bittersweet discovery due to the limited number of individuals left in the wild and fragmented populations," Roberto Portela Miguez, a study coauthor and the senior curator at the London Natural History Museum, said, as CNN reported.

The Popa langur was discovered in a surprising way, according to an AFP article published in The Guardian. A genetic analysis of a more-than 100 year old specimen held at London's Natural History Museum revealed that it was a distinct species. The museum specimen matched more recent bones gathered in the field in Myanmar. The monkeys were filmed for the first time in 2018.

"Monkeys are one of the most iconic groups of mammals, and these specimens have been in the collections for over a hundred years," Miguez said in a museum press release. "But we didn't have the tools or the expertise to do this work before. It is thanks to this collaboration with multiple international colleagues and latest sequencing techniques that we manage to bring this species to light."

The research was a collaboration between the museum, Flora & Fauna International, and the German Primate Centre.

There are more than 20 species of langur in the world, according to AFP, and several are already endangered. The Popa langur takes its name from Myanmar's Mount Popa, a pilgrimage site that is home to the species' largest population, CNN reported. That population has more than 100 individuals.

Luckily, Mount Popa is already home to a wildlife sanctuary, but Miguez said that hunting and deforestation still occur there.

Overall, habitat loss is the greatest threat to the new species, which once lived throughout Myanmar.

"Hunting is a big problem but the bigger threat is the habitat is almost gone and it is reduced, fragmented and isolated due to human encroachment, " Christian Roos of the German Primate Centre told BBC News.

However, the scientists said that the discovery of the new species will help with its conservation.

"The hope is that by giving this species the scientific status and notoriety it merits, there will be even more concerted efforts in protecting this area and the few other remaining populations," Miguez said in the museum release. "At least whatever decisions are made in the future when it comes to things like how the parks are managed, those [will] be from a more informed point of view as we now know of the distinctiveness of the population of langurs that is actually there."

Past history gives reason for hope, Flora & Fauna International pointed out. A decade ago, the organization discovered the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey and realized there were only 260 to 330 of the animals left. But they worked with the Myanmar government and local communities to help the species. The Myanmar government just declared its mountain forest habitat a protected area this year.

"It is hoped that by engaging with communities, and with business interests whose areas of operation overlap with the Popa langur's limestone habitat, we will pave the way for appropriate action to protect this particular primate in perpetuity," the conservation organization wrote.

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less