Arunachal macaque

The Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) is a macaque native to Arunachal Pradesh in North-east India. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.[1] It was scientifically described in 2005.[2]

Arunachal macaque
Arunachal macaque from Bugun and Shertukpen forests around Eaglenest WLS.JPG
Arunachal macaque from Bugun and Shertukpen forests around Eaglenest WLS
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Macaca
M. munzala
Binomial name
Macaca munzala
Sinha et al., 2005[2]
Arunachal Macaque area.png
Arunachal macaque range

It is a relatively large brown primate with a comparatively short tail. Its species name comes from munzala ("monkey of the deep forest") as it was called by the Monpa people.[3]


A camera trap photograph of Arunachal macaques in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, India

It was discovered as a new taxon in 1997 by the noted Indian primatologist Anwaruddin Choudhury, but he thought it to be a new subspecies of the Tibetan macaque (M. thibetana).[4] It was described as a new species in 2005 by a group of scientists from the Nature Conservation Foundation, India.[2] It is the first species of macaque to have been discovered since 1903, when the Indonesian Pagai Island macaque was discovered. This monkey was reported on the basis of a good quality photograph as the holotype. In 2011, some researchers suggested, on the basis of morphological variation within the Assamese macaque, that it might be better treated as a subspecies.[5]

Subsequently, it was also discovered in Bhutan, where it was observed and photographed in the Trashi Yangshi area in 2006.[6]


The Arunachal macaque is compactly built and has a very dark face. It lives at high altitudes, between 2000 m and 3500 m above sea level, making it one of the highest-dwelling primates. It belongs to the M. sinica species-group of macaques, along with the Assamese macaque (M. assamensis), the Tibetan macaque, the bonnet macaque (M. radiata) and the toque macaque (M. sinica).

The Arunachal macaque is apparently physically similar to the Assam and Tibetan macaques, while genetically closely related to the bonnet macaque of southern India.[7] This is probably the result of convergent evolution, where organisms evolve similar physical features due to similar environmental selection pressure, while genetically they may have different origins. However, its full specific status is not beyond doubt and further research might show it to be a new subspecies of Assamese or Tibetan macaques.[citation needed]

This monkey is severely persecuted in some parts of its known distribution by locals retaliating against crop raiding. Recent[when?] surveys suggest that this species may be highly endangered in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Kumar, A.; Sinha, A. & Kumar, S. (2008). "Macaca munzala". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008: e.T136569A4311929.
  2. ^ a b c Sinha, A.; Datta, A.; Madhusudan, M. D. & Mishra, C. (2005). "Macaca munzala: a new species from western Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India". International Journal of Primatology. 26 (4): 977–989. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/s10764-005-5333-3.
  3. ^ Press release issued jointly by NCF, WCS, New York, International Snow Leopard Trust & NIAS, Bangalore  PDF Archived 30 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Choudhury, A. (2004). "The mystery macaques of Arunachal Pradesh". Rhino Foundation Newsletter. 6: 21–25.
  5. ^ Biswas, J.; Borah, D. K.; Das, A.; Das, J.; Bhattacharjee, P. C.; Mohnot, S. M. & Horwich, R. H. (2011). "The Enigmatic Arunachal Macaque: Its Biogeography, Biology and Taxonomy in Northeastern India". American Journal of Primatology. 73 (5): 458–73. doi:10.1002/ajp.20924. PMID 21246593.
  6. ^ Choudhury A.U. (2008). "Primates of Bhutan and observations of hybrid langurs". Primate Conservation. 23: 65–73. doi:10.1896/052.023.0107.
  7. ^ Chakraborty, D.; Ramakrishnan, U.; Panor, J.; Mishra, C.; Sinha, A. (2007). "Phylogenetic relationships and morphometric affinities of the Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala, a newly described primate from Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 44 (2): 838–49. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.04.007. PMID 17548213.

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