LOCATION: Mizoram, India
TARGET SPECIES: Phayre’s langur (Trachypithecus phayrei), hoolock gibbon (Bunopithecus hoolock)
STATUS: ESTABLISHED (SUSTAINED BY LOCAL LEADERS)
With an emphasis on the primates of the northeast states of India, Community Conservation sponsored an initial project of Samrakshan under the leadership of Arpan Sharma to help them start up a primate-focused project in Mizoram. Focused on the Phayre’s langur (Trachypithecus phayrei) and the hoolock gibbon (Bunopithecus hoolock), the project was initiated with the support of the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation.
Mizoram is the southernmost state of the northeastern states bordered by Tripura, lower Assam and Manipur on the north, Bangladesh on the west and south and Myanmar on the east and south. The Kiasietlah Conservation Area is in a remote area on the southern tip of Mizoram. Kiasietlah is a mountain range running roughly north-south along the international boundary. Due to its difficult terrain and the lack of any human habitation, it is rich in wildlife. Through detail surveys, rapid surveys and camera traps over 36 species of mammals and 77 species of birds have been identified.
Mammals include Sambar, barking deer, gaur, serow, goral, wild pig, elephant, Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, leopard, clouded leopard, dholes, large India civet, Himalyan palm civet, otters, Himalyan porcupine, hoary bellied squirrel, Pallas squirrel, Himalyan striped squirrel, and the Indian false vampire bat.
All eight species of primates have been confirmed in the area Hoolock gibbon (Bunopithecus hoolock); Phayre’s leaf monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus phayrei); Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis); Slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis); Stumptailed macaque (Macaca arctoides); Capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus); Pigtailed macaque (Macaca leonina); Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta)] It appears that the Stump tailed macaque is the rarest primate in the area.
The land is owned by villagers communally. Preliminary evidence suggests that land use change is largely benign and reversible. The jhum (slash-and-burn) cycle continues to remain viable and people are able to secure adequate productivity that allows them a year round supply of the staple crop – paddy. Like with all other parts of the north east there is a strong hunting tradition that appears to pose the greatest challenge to densities of wild animals.
The study and conservation of primates in Mizoram and related projects in Assam, and Aranachal Pradesh, Northeast India, have been funded in large part by multiple grants from the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation and Primate Conservation, Inc. as well as individual donors to Community Conservation.