AppearanceThe monkey is yellowish-brown to grey with a lighter underside. The Barbary macaque has a mean body length of 556.8 mm in females and 634.3 mm in males, and mean body weight is reported to be 9.9 ± 1.03 kg in females and 14.5 ± 1.75 kg in males. Its face is dark pink and its tail is vestigial, measuring anywhere from 4 to 22mm. Males often have a more prominent tail. The front limbs of this monkey are longer than its hind limbs. Females are smaller than males.
DistributionThe last wild population in Europe is that of Gibraltar, which, unlike that of North Africa, is thriving. Currently, there are around 230 individuals living on the Rock of Gibraltar, and they form groups of up to 75 and will occasionally enter towns.
StatusWild populations of Barbary macaques have suffered a major decline in recent years to the point of being declared in 2009 as an endangered species by the IUCN. Three-quarters of the world population are located in the Middle Atlas Mountains.
This species is also poached for live specimens as pets in the illegal pet trade, and for clandestine collectors. Spain is the main entry point in Europe. Today, no accurate data exist on the location and number of individuals out of their habitat. An unknown number of individuals are included in zoological collections, at other institutions, in private hands, in storage, or waiting to be relocated to appropriate destinations.
The habitat of the Barbary macaque is under threat from increased logging activity. As such, they are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List. Local farmers view the monkeys as pests, and engage in extermination of the species. Once common throughout northern Africa and southern Europe, only an estimated 12,000 to 21,000 Barbary macaques are left in Morocco and Algeria. Once, their distribution was much more extensive, reaching Tunisia and Libya. Their range is no longer continuous, with only isolated areas of range remaining. During the Pleistocene, this species inhabited the Mediterranean coasts and Europe, reaching Italy, Hungary, Spain, Portugal and France, and as far north as Germany and the British Isles. The species decreased with the arrival of the Ice Age, becoming extinct in the Iberian Peninsula 30,000 years ago.
The Barbary macaque is threatened by habitat loss, overgrazing and illegal capture. In Morocco, tourists interact with Barbary macaques in many regions. Information collected in the interviews with inhabitants in the High Atlas of Morocco indicated that the capture of macaques occurs in theses regions.
Conflict between local people and wild macaques is one of the greatest challenges to ''Macaca sylvanus'' conservation in Morocco. The main threats to the survival of
Barbary macaques in this region have been found to be habitat destruction and the impact of livestock grazing, but there are also increasing problems of conflict with inhabitants due to crop raiding and the illegal capture of macaques. One study has found that the human–macaque conflict is mainly due to crop raiding. In the High Atlas of Morocco, macaques attract a large number of tourists every year, and they are favourable for their potential benefits to tourism. In addition, macaques have some ecological roles, for example they are the predators of several destructive insects and pests of plants and participate in seed dispersal in many plant species.
In the Central High Atlas the Barbary macaque occurs in relatively small and fragmented areas restricted to the main valleys at altitudes of 700–2,400 m. In a 2013 study, researchers reported that they found Barbary macaques in relatively small and fragmented habitats in 10 sites, and that that the species no longer occurred in four localities. This could be attributed to habitat degradation, hunting activities, the impact of livestock grazing, and disturbance by people. As deforestation for agriculture and overgrazing continues, the remaining forest becomes increasingly fragmented. Consequently, the Barbary macaque is now restricted to small, fragmented relict habitats.
The skull of a Barbary macaque was discovered during excavation in the 1970s at the pre-Christian Navan Fort in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Carbon dating tests suggest it died there in the third century BC.
BehaviorThe Barbary macaque is gregarious, forming mixed groups of several females and males. Troops can have 10 to 100 individuals and are matriarchal, with their hierarchy determined by lineage to the lead female. Unlike other macaques, the males participate in rearing the young. Males may spend a considerable amount of time playing with and grooming infants. In this way, a strong social bond is formed between males and juveniles, both the male's own offspring and those of others in the troop. This may be a result of selectivity on the part of the females, who may prefer highly parental males.
The mating season runs from November through March. The gestation period is 147 to 192 days, and females usually have only one offspring per pregnancy. Females rear twins in rare instances. Offspring reach maturity at three to four years of age, and may live for 20 years or more.
Grooming other Barbary macaques leads to lower stress levels for the individuals that do the grooming. While stress levels do not appear to be reduced in animals that are groomed, grooming more individuals leads to even lower stress levels; this is a benefit that might outweigh the costs to the groomer, which include less time to participate in other activities such as foraging. The mechanism for reducing stress may be explained by the social relationships that are formed by grooming.
Male Barbary macaques interfere in conflicts and form coalitions with other males, usually with related males rather than with unrelated males. These relationships suggest that males do so in order to indirectly increase their own fitness. Furthermore, males form coalitions with closely related kin more often than they do with distantly related kin. These coalitions are not permanent and may change frequently as male ranking within the group changes. Although males are more likely to form coalitions with males who have helped them in the past, this is not as important as relatedness in determining coalitions. Males avoid conflicting with higher ranking males and will more frequently form coalitions with the higher ranking male in a conflict....hieroglyph snipped... Close grouping of males occur when infant Barbary macaques are present. Interactions between males are commonly initiated when a male presents an infant macaque to an adult male who is not caring for an infant, or when an unattached male approaches males who are caring for infants. This behaviour leads to a type of social buffering which reduces the number of antagonistic interactions among males in a group.
An open mouth display by the Barbary macaque is used most commonly by juvenile macaques as a sign of playfulness.
HabitatThe Barbary macaque is mainly found in the Atlas and Rif Mountain ranges of Morocco and Algeria. It is the only species of macaque that is distributed outside of Asia. These animals can occupy a variety of habitats, such as cedar, fir, and oak forests, or grasslands, scrub, rocky ridges full of vegetation. Most Barbary macaques inhabit cedar forests currently in the Atlas Mountains, however, this could reflect the present habitat availability rather than a specific preference for this habitat.
The diet of a Barbary macaque consists of a mixture of plants and insect prey. M. sylvanus consume a large variety of gymnosperms and angiosperms. Almost every part of the plant is eaten, including flowers, fruits, seeds, seedlings, leaves, buds, bark, gum, stems, roots, bulbs, and corns. Common prey caught and consumed by Barbary macaques are snails, earthworms, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, grasshoppers, termites, water striders, scale insects, beetles, butterflies, moths, ants, and even tadpoles.
Their main predators are leopards, eagles, and domestic dogs. The approach of eagles and domestic dogs is known to elicit an alarm call response.Barbary macaques can cause major damage to the trees in their prime habitat, the Atlas cedar forests in Morocco. Since deforestation in Morocco has become a major environmental problem in recent years, research has been conducted to determine the cause of the bark stripping behaviour demonstrated by these macaques. Cedar trees are also vital to this population of Barbary macaques as an area with cedars can support a much higher density of macaques than one without them. A lack of a water source and exclusion of monkeys from water sources are major causes of cedar bark stripping behaviour in Barbary macaques. Density of macaques, however, is less correlated with the behaviour than the other causes considered.
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