Newly discovered species of monkey is already ‘at risk of extinction’

A newly discovered species of monkey is "already facing extinction" with only around 200 remaining.

The Popa langur, which was found in the remote forests of Myanmar, was identified thanks to samples of faeces at the London Natural History Museum.

The animal was known for its distinctive spectacle-like eye patches and greyish-coloured fur and experts believe that, despite only just being discovered, they have been around for at least a million year.

It is at risk from habitat loss and hunting.

Scientists have suspected there might be a new species in Myanmar for a long time, based on DNA extracted from the droppings of wild monkeys, but evidence has been hard to find.

Experts turned to historical specimens stored in natural history museums in London, New York, Singapore and Leiden, the Netherlands.

Early explorers to what was then the British colony Burma collected the monkey specimens, which had never been examined in detail.

Researchers extracted DNA and measured physical features such as tail and ear length, which they compared with those of wild populations.

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This revealed a new species, the Popa langur, which is found only in patches of forest in the centre of Myanmar. Most live in a wildlife sanctuary park on the slopes of the sacred pilgrimage site of Mount Popa.

Frank Momberg, of the conservation group Fauna & Flora International, said: "The Popa langur, just newly described, is already critically endangered and facing extinction so it's absolutely critical to protect the remaining population and to engage with local communities as well as private sector stakeholders to safeguard its future."

There are only 200 to 250 animals of the new species, which live in four isolated populations.

Christian Roos of the primate genetics laboratory at the German Primate Centre in Gottingnen said the animals faced threats from habitat loss and hunting.

He said: "Hunting is a big problem but the bigger threat is the habitat is almost gone and it is reduced, fragmented and isolated due to human encroachment."

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