Thursday, February 16, 2006

Alert sounded over Golden Langur deaths in Assam

Wildlife authorities sounded an alert over the deaths of a rare primate species in Assam in a mysterious disease in the past week, officials said Thursday.

A wildlife official in Assam said forest rangers recovered corpses of nine golden langurs in the western district of Kokrajhar, about 230 km from here.

"Nine deaths in a few days is a matter of serious concern. We are worried as the disease might further spread and hence an alert to save this rare primate from getting wiped out," Kempa Borgoyary, a wildlife warden in Kokrajhar, told IANS.

Golden langur is one of the world's most endangered species found only in a few pockets in western Assam and adjoining Bhutan. The total population of this rare primate species is about 10,000.

According to locals and unofficial reports, some 15 golden langurs have died so far in the area.

"We appeal to experts with knowledge in primates from anywhere in the world to come and help us to save this highly endangered primates from extinction," the warden said.

"We cannot allow this beautiful species to get annihilated from the world map."

Forest officials have sent samples for forensic tests to find out the exact cause of the deaths. "We do not know if the primates are hit by some viral disease," another wildlife official T. Basumatary said.

Wildlife authorities in Bhutan are also concerned at the sudden deaths of Golden Langurs in Assam.

"The golden langurs are found in small belt and if there is a viral outbreak then it might hit the species in our area as well. We are keeping a strict vigil and in touch with our counterparts in Assam," a Bhutanese wildlife official said by telephone from Samdrup Jhonkhar district requesting anonymity.

Experts and conservation groups said the deaths comes at a time when this is the mating season for the golden langurs.

"We believe the deaths were caused due to poisoning, with the golden langurs probably drinking water from a river where people use chemicals to kill fish," said Soumyadeep Dutta, director of Natures Beckon, a conservation group working on the golden langurs.

Story here.

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