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17th July 2023 (8 Topics)

Hoolock gibbon: India’s only ‘Ape’


Recently, as the meeting of Global Gibbon Network (GGN) held in China, the conservation status of India’s only ape was a cause for concern at a global event on gibbons.

  • China claims the difference between the gibbon population of India and within its territory in IUCN.

About the Species:

  • Gibbons, the smallest and fastest of all apes, live in tropical and subtropical forests in the south-eastern part of Asia.
  • The hoolock gibbon, unique to India’s northeast, is one of 20 species of gibbons on Earth.
  • The estimated population of hoolock gibbons is 12,000.
  • The current conservation status of gibbon species is alarming – all 20 species are at a high risk of extinction.
  • Western Hillock Gibbon:
    • Its range extends into seven states covering Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura.
    • Protection Status: The western hoolock gibbon is 'Endangered' according to the IUCN Red List found in India.
  • Eastern hoolock gibbon:
    • It inhabits specific pockets of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India, and in southern China and north-east Myanmar outside India.
    • It is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist.
  • In India, both the species are listed on Schedule 1 of the Indian (Wildlife) Protection Act 1972.

The Conservation status:

  • The meeting at Haikou in China’s Hainan province has mentioned that gibbon distribution and populations have declined dramatically, with only small populations in tropical rainforests since 1900.
  • The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) study concluded that two populations of the Western hoolock gibbon and the assumed Eastern hoolock gibbon split 48 million years ago.
  • It also estimated that the gibbon divergence from a common ancestor occurred 8.38 million years ago.

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