The Barbary Macaque
is a species of unique monkeys found in a very limited region outside of Asia. Also
known as maggot and Barbary ape (a misnomer), these are tailless
ground-dwelling monkeys. Known for their dark pink face, the population of
these mammals is decreasing rapidly.
Height (Size): The average head to body length of the females is 556.8 mm (21.9 in), and that of the males is 634.3 mm (25.0 in).
Weight: The averageweight is reportedly around 21.8 lbs in the females, 32.0 lbs in the males.
Coat: The body is covered with yellowish-brown to grey hair
(fur). The underside has a lighter shade.
Body: The face of
these primates is bright pink while the tail is vestigial, which can measure
anything between 4 and 22mm, with the males usually having a more prominent
tail. Their forelimbs are longer than the hind limbs.
Sexual Dimorphism: The
sexes look alike except that the males are slightly larger than the females.
In the wild, the longevity of the Barbary macaques is typically
22 years. Their life as pets in captivity is a few years less at around 17.
Distribution and Habitat
Their range extends through the savanna, grasslands, upland forests
and scrub forests of the Atlas Mountains
of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. A small population is also found in Gibraltar,
though the origin of it is yet uncertain.
Classification of Species
Currently, no subspecies of the Barbary macaque have been described by the biologists.
These monkeys are diurnal and have an interesting social
structure. They stay active all day, moving from one place to another, foraging
for food. After sunset, small groups of two to three same-sex monkeys may sleep
together. In an average, a group may
contain around 24-25 heads; however,
there are records of up to 59 individuals. The male/female ratio in a group is
Like most other social primates, grooming each other is a part of their daily rituals. Such an
act help them create strong bonds between each other by removing parasites
using their hands, as well as lowering stress at the same time.
Both the sexes build their own
hierarchies, with the female hierarchies being strictly matrilineal while each
female maintains a specific rank within the group. The newborn female children
naturally inherit the next highest role under their mothers, above the other older
female siblings and others within the group. The female monkeys protect their
respective status through aggression. The rank of a particular individual is almost
stable and seldom changes.
On the other hand, the males have looser hierarchies of dominance,
and they display much lesser aggression
towards other males. They rarely bite or attack one another, nor are they
dangerous to humans.
In fact, compared to many
other primate species, these monkeys are relatively peaceful, and only half of the
cases of interactions between them are aggressive. In most cases, aggressions are
only limited to chattering their teeth, displaying specific facial expressions,
chasing, and eventually retreating.
The Barbary macaques are omnivores and feed on both animal
and plant matters. Their daily food list includes amphibians, insects, as also
species of small lizards, leaves, roots, tubers, wood, bark, stems, seeds,
grains, nuts, fruits, flowers, and
Reproduction and Life Cycle
These mammals are polygynandrous.
Both the sexes can have as males and females have multiple sexual partners. The
females begin and terminate sexual interactions and would even compete with other
females by initiating an interruption in the act of copulation.
The rank of the male individuals plays a trivial role which the females choose to copulate with. They tend to give out a particular copulation
call during mating.
The mating season of these mammals is rather short,
commencing in around November and terminating in December. Being social
creatures, the members of the Barbary macaque groups take equal part in caring
for their infants. However, baby stealing behavior and offering the infant to the
dominant males in order to gain favor has
been noted in some individuals.
The gestation period (pregnancy) of the female Barbary
macaque lasts for around 164.2 days, after which, usually only one offspring is
born in the summer months, between April and June. The baby monkeys, both males
and females, typically attain the age of sexual
maturity when they are around 46 months old.
To cope with the dramatic
weather changes of the region, these monkeys grow thick furry coats during
the winter months, and shed for
lighter ones with the arrival of summer.
In order to let the males get aware of the beginning of the estrus
cycle, the anogenital region of the female begins to swell.
Large species of eagles, golden jackals, and red foxes are the primary enemies of the Barbary
Population and Conservation Status
Over recent decades, the species has rapidly declined, with the
remaining number estimated in the wild is between 8,000 and 10,000. While the
IUCN 3.1 has declared them as ‘EN’ (Endangered), several organizations and projects
have been undertaken for the awareness
and conservation of these rare monkeys, including the BMAC (Barbary Macaque
Awareness Conservation), based in Morocco.
The name ‘Barbary’ is derived from Morocco ‘Berber People’ who
had built up bonds with these animals that lived around their dwelling region
since time immemorial.
It got its alternate name
‘Barbary ape’ incorrectly since this species has no tail.