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Art & Our World | Endangered Species Series


Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus)

Average Weight: females - 9.9kg, males - 14.5kg

Lifespan: up to 30 years

Grouping: they live in troops up to 100 members

Range: Gibraltar, Morocco, Algeria

Habitat: Oak and Cedar forests

Population: Rock of Gibraltar - 230 living in 6 groups, Northern Algeria - only 7 small subpopulations that are separated by 50-200km, Moroccan Middle Atlas - the largest and most important to conservation

Diet: Plants and insects (snails, worms, scorpions, spiders, termites, beetles, etc)

The Barbary Macaque is the only non-human primate to be found in Europe and only species of macaque found in Africa (the others are in Asia).

Often called Barbary Apes (due to their lack of tail), the Barbary Macaque is actually an Old World Primate and belongs to the Cercopithecidae family (baboons, guenons, and langurs). All these species share skeletal features including a narrow nose, hindlimbs that are longer than the forelimbs, and tail adaptations. The Barbary Macaque's particular subfamily also has cheek pouches for storing food.

The males help care for the young, which distinguishes them from other macaques, and often look after offspring that are not their own because females mate with all males, so paternity is never certain.

The Barbary Macaque is listed a 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. The main threat on this species is habitat loss due to logging and increased grazing land. Human encroachment on their habitat introduces foreign animals (dogs, etc) and disease that threaten the Barbary Macaque as well as hunting of these animals as a tourist attraction and keeping them for pets.

Sources: BBC Nature, Gibraltar Ornithology and Natural History Society, and Natural History Museum.

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