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Chinese ecologists calls for halt in dam projects in Tibet

May 4, 2015

Indian Express, May 3, 2015 - Chinese ecologists have called for a halt in construction of dams, including one claimed to be the world's biggest, in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh citing adverse impact of hydropower stations over the potential habitat of newly discovered species of a macaque in the area.

"Construction of hydropower stations would result in the destruction and flooding of extensive areas of forest along the rivers, the potential habitat of white-cheeked macaques, the researchers wrote in their paper," Chinese researchers said.

"The immigration of a large number of people into the area to construct the hydropower stations also will result in an increase in the bush meat trade, deforestation, new roads, and the construction of housing for workers, all of which will have a negative impact on conservation of the new species," they were quoted as saying by state-run China Daily.

Modog, located close to Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as southern Tibet, forms part of the Grand Canyon reserve forest where China plans to build the world's biggest dam over Brahmaputra which sparked concerns India.

Li Cheng, an amateur naturalist a Fan Pengfei and one of China's leading primatologists who works at Dali University in Yunnan province and his colleague Zhao Chao, a dedicated wildlife photographer discovered the new monkey species at junction of the Eastern Himalaya and the Indo-Burma region.

"I only encountered the monkeys and got their photos and videos through camera traps in unspoiled primitive forests in Modog," Li told state-run China Daily.

The new primate is distinguished from the other four macaque species in the region-Assam, Tibetan, Rhesus, and Arunachal-by the rounded glans of its penis and a dark, hairy scrotal sac, the American Journal of Primatology said.

The new discovery inhabits a wide range of habitats, from tropical forests at 1,395 meters above sea level, to primary and secondary ever-green broad-leaved forests at 2,000 meters,and mixed forests of broad-leaves and conifers at 2,700 meters.

Liu Yang, a biologist from Sun Yatsen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, said: "The unexpected discovery of the white-cheeked macaque means more secrets may be hidden in bio-diverse southeastern Tibet".

The first generating unit of the USD 1.5 billion hydropower station, which is positioned over 3,300 metres above sea level at Zangmu in Tibet.

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