Macaca assamensis pelops: Western Macaque Sub-species in Bhutan
The Western Macaque sub-species (Macaca assamensis pelops) commonly known as Western Macaque was observed in July 2011 in Bhutan although central Bhutan was believed to be the range for the species. Mr. Rinchen Wangdi sighted about 8 individuals on the road about 2 km away from Bji Zam towards Trongsa Dzong in Trongsa District on 11th July 2011 afternoon (2:17 pm, BST). It is located at an altitude of 6203 ft and 27o30’59.20’’ North and 90o27’53.36’’ East on GPS reading.
The habitat is dominated by Oak forest (Quercus griffithii) associated with Castanopsis indica, Rhus spp., Rhododendron arboreum, Lyonia ovalifolia, with dominant under story of Elaeagnus spp. and Artemisia vulgaris. Above the road in the marshes, some pioneer species like Alnus nepalensis were seen regenerating adequately. The gradient of the site is moderately sloped (<40o) facing east aspect.
Morphological characteristics of Western Macaque (Macaca assamensis pelops)
The male photographed was heavily built. The pelage is long and thick giving him almost a shaggy look. When seen at closer look it appears quit frightening due to its fierceness in nature. The light coat pelage colour is uniform at dorsal and becomes much paler underneath. It has unique characteristics of dark crown patch and a pale collared hair around the neck. It significantly lacks facial markings. It was also observed that the moustache appearance is less prominent. The facial skin is darker than dorsal coat with upper portion of face relatively boarder than muzzle. The tail is short with same colour as dorsal coat and has almost rounded tail tip.