A tryst with the mountain dwellers of Latpanchor
Shy and elusive, the Assamese macaques are rare to be spotted, nestled in the canopies of the NorthEast. Suhas Paranjpe recounts his rare photo opportunity offered by this animal during his visit to Latpanchor.
On our trip to Latpanchor, Darjeeling district, from Feb 28th till March 3rd, 2019, my friend Mandar and I had a wondrously peaceful time taking in the ambience of this little known hamlet nestled in the mountains of North East India.
We saw many birds during trip as well as a few mammals, like Yellow throated marten, Lesser short-nosed fruit bat, Assamese macaque, hoary-bellied squirrel, orange-bellied squirrel, Himalayan langurand Malayan giant squirrels. There is a beautiful place called Shivkhola, approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Latpanchor. It’s a pretty spot for birding.While birding we kept an eye out for all the mammals that we could spot. The Malayan giant squirrel was quite a surprise sighting for us, the credit of the spotting of it goes to our knowledgeable driver who pointed it out to us.
I liked the Assamese Macaques photos which had taken in the trip, as compared to other mammals. The light was also good at that time, making the composition of the image better than most. There were 10 of them that I could spot.They were not shy at all and used to human presence, we saw them from around 15 feet distance with babies. It was lifer for us. We took few photos and close up shots also. The babies were playing, some were looking curiously at us. I took this photo with Nikon p 900 (M mode always). Macaques were eating leaves and fruits while looking at us.
When we returned to our hotel, we came to know that Assamese macaques sighting is rare in the area,the knowledge that we got some rare sighting please us mightily. Assamese macaques are diurnal, and at times both arboreal and terrestrial. They are omnivorous and feed on fruits, leaves, invertebrates and cereals. Troop sizes varied between 13 and 35 individuals. They usually inhabit hill areas above 1,000 m (3,300 ft), but in the wetter eastern parts of the region, they may occur even in the lowlands, and frequent areas that only marginally reach this altitude. They preferred maize kernals, followed by potato tubers, but also raid fields to forage for wheat, buckwheat, and millet.