New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Sela Macaque


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sela Macaque, Sela Pass

Mains level: Not Much

A new species of old world monkey recorded from Arunachal Pradesh has been named after a strategic Sela pass at 13,700 ft above sea level.

Sela macaque (Macaca selai).

  • This new primate was identified and analysed by a team of experts from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the University of Calcutta.
  • Earlier it was called as White- Cheeked Macaque displaying white cheeks, long and thick hairs on the neck area, and a longer tail.
  • Their study has been published in the latest edition of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
  • Phylogenetics relate to the evolutionary development and diversification of a species or group of organisms.
  • The phylogenetic analysis revealed that the Sela macaque was geographically separated from the Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) of Tawang district by Sela.
  • This mountain pass acted as a barrier by restricting the migration of individuals of these two species for approximately two million years.

Protection status

  • It has NOT been yet included in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of India.
  • The potential threat to all species of macaques in the landscape is due to hunting by locals for consumption and habitat degradation due to urbanization and infrastructure development.

 About Sela Pass

  • The Sela Pass is a high-altitude mountain pass located on the border between the Tawang and West Kameng districts in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It has an elevation of 4170 m and connects the Indian Buddhist town of Tawang to Dirang and Guwahati.
  • The pass supports scarce amounts of vegetation and is usually snow-covered to some extent throughout the year.
  • While Sela Pass does get heavy snowfall in winters, it is usually open throughout the year unless landslides or snow require the pass to be shut down temporarily.
  • The strategically-significant Sela Tunnel project is now nearing completion well before the deadline.


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