The thick Sirsi-Honnavara forests of Karnataka in Western Ghats have been found to be the world’s largest home to the lion-tailed macaque, a critically endangered species.
The lion-tailed macaque, a primate, is endemic to the Western Ghats.
A recent joint study by two experts led to the finding of 638 lion-tailed macaques in the Sirsi-Honnavara region. The region is farther subdivided into 32 groups, some of which include the Kyadagi, Siddapura ranges in Sirsi forest division and Gersoppa, Kumta ranges in Honnavara forest division.
The study was led by Chikmagalur-based wildlife biologist and renowned primatologist Dr Honanavalli N Kumara, and Vijay Mohan Raj, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Sirsi.
It estimated the number of lion-tailed macaques in the entire Western Ghats to be around 3,500 to 4,000, with the population in Sirsi-Honnavara being the largest.
Lion-tailed macaques also figure in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural resources (IUCN) “red list”, categorised as Low Risk Near Threatened (LRNT).
It is classified as endangered as it is very selective in its feeding habits and has limited range of occupancy, delayed sexual maturity, long inter-birth intervals, low population turnover and a small remaining wild population.
Lion-tailed macaques are found in low numbers in the wild and are highly restricted to narrow strips of rainforests in the region.