Macaca sylvanus 

Scope: Global & Mediterranean
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Cercopithecidae

Scientific Name: Macaca sylvanus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Barbary Macaque, Barbary Ape
French Macaque de Gibraltar, Magot, Magot commun
Spanish Mona de Berbería, Mona de Gibraltar, Mono de Berberea, Mono de Gibraltar
Macaca sylvana (Linnaeus, 1758) [orth. error]
Simia sylvanus Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Source(s): Mittermeier, R.A., Rylands, A.B. and Wilson D.E. 2013. Handbook of the Mammals of the World: Volume 3 Primates. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2bcd+4bcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Butynski, T.M., Cortes, J., Waters, S., Fa, J., Hobbelink, M.E., van Lavieren, E., Belbachir, F., Cuzin, F., de Smet, K., Mouna, M., de Iongh, H., Menard, N. & Camperio-Ciani, A.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Overall, the population of this species is estimated to have declined at a rate exceeding 50% over the last 3 generations (24 years). This decline is expected to continue in the future. Consequently it qualifies as Endangered. The status of this species varies in different parts of its range.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Barbary Macaque is the only surviving primate in Africa north of the Sahara desert, the only native species of primate to occur in Europe, and the only member of the genus Macaca that can be found outside Asia. The species was once an inhabitant of parts of Europe and all of North Africa (Delson 1980; Camperio Ciani 1986). In historic times it was it was widespread throughout north Africa from Libya to Morocco, but its current distribution is limited to small relict patches of forest and scrub in Algeria and Morocco (Fa 1984; Camperio Ciani 1986; Menard and Vallet 1993; Scheffrahn et al. 1993). A semi wild population lives in Gibraltar, which is a long established introduced population (Fa 1981; von Starck 1990; Hodges and Cortes 2006).

In Morocco, M. sylvanus can still be found in the Rif mountains (northern Morocco) and the Middle and High Atlas mountains (central and southern Morocco). In Algeria, it is found in the Tellian Atlas (Petite Kabylie and Grande Kabylie mountains, and an isolated population in the Chréa National Park) (northern Algeria). More specifically, in Morocco the High Atlas populations (two anciently separated populations) are found in the Bou Tferda valley to Demnat region and around the Ourika Valley, respectively; the Rif populations are primarily on Mounts Lakraa, Tissouka, Tazoute, Bouhacham, and Djebel Moussa. In Algeria, from west to east, Barbary Macaque populations are distributed as follows: (a) Chiffa gorges (Chréa National Park); (b) Djurdjura forests and rocky cliffs (Djurdjura National Park, Grande-Kabylie); (c) Akfadou forests, including a small ‘subpopulation’ recently settled in degraded forests and maquis, near El-Kseur (Grande-Kabylie and Petite-Kabylie); (d) Cap Carbon, Aiguades and Pic des Singes (Gouraya National Park; Béjaïa, Petite-Kabylie); (e) Chaabet-el-Akhra Gorges (Kherrata; Béjaïa, Petite-Kabylie); (f) ‘Massif des Babors’ forests (Sétif and Béjaïa, Petite-Kabylie); (g) Guerrouch forest (Taza National Park; Jijel, Petite-Kabylie). Additionally, a Barbary Macaque population might still occur in Djebel Bouzegza (Boumerdes, Grande-Kabylie) (F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007).

The species occurs from sea level to 2,600 m (Cuzin 2003), but in Morocco at least it is most common at altitudes above 1,000 m (F. Cuzin pers. comm. 2007).
Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Morocco
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In 1999 the total number of remaining macaques was estimated at around 15,000 individuals (Von Segesser et al. 1999), although this estimate was based on incomplete data. The Moroccan population was more recently estimated to be 6,000-10,000 individuals (Ross 2004), whereas in 1975 it was about 17,000 (Taub 1975). In Algeria, the population was estimated at 5,500 30 years ago (Taub 1977) but may currently be less, although exact numbers are unknown (Hodges and Cortes 2006). On Gibraltar, the population has been maintained at c.200 individuals in recent years (Hodges and Cortes 2006).

According to Moroccan authorities the number of macaques has increased over the last decade (van Lavieren 2006). However, a number of detailed surveys have documented marked declines in population density, along with losses of a number of sites (Von Segesser et al. 1999; Camperio Ciani et al. 2005; van Lavieren 2006). The remaining subpopulations in the Rif mountains and High Atlas mountains of Morocco are fragmented and sometimes small. Fourteen isolated populations were identified in the High Atlas (Cuzin 2003). Algerian subpopulations are also fragmented (Mehlman 1989; Fa 1984; Von Segesser et al. 1999). In 1999, just seven widely separated isolated populations existed, whereas 35 years ago they were found in at least six additional localities in Algeria (Von Segesser et al. 1999). The remaining isolated populations are now completely separated by distances of 50-100 km, with no corridors. The only area where M. sylvanus is thought to occur in relative abundance is the cedar forest area of the central Middle Atlas, which represents the largest refuge of the North African forest ecosystem. In the 1980s it was estimated that 65-75% of the world's remaining population of Macaca sylvanus lived in this area (Camperio Ciani 1986). The populations in the Middle Atlas outside the central region were found to be much lower in density (Taub 1975). The central region of the Middle Atlas thus has a crucial role in the survival of the species. In the mid-1970s, population densities in the central Middle Atlas cedar forest were variously estimated at 60-70 individuals per km2 (Deag 1974) or 43 per km2 (Taub 1975). Subsequent studies showed that the population density in this region declined from 44 to 25 individuals per km2 over the last two decades of the 20th century (Camperio Ciani et al. 1999). In 2005, surveys in the Middle Atlas showed an average density of 15 to 20 individuals per km2 (van Lavieren 2006), in some areas dropping to an average density of 7-10 individuals per km2 (Camperio Ciani et al. 2005). Surveys conducted in 2006-2007 show that some habitat fragments contained only one or a few small groups. The population density in these fragments was little more than 0 individuals per km2 and local extinction appears imminent (N. Ménard pers. comm. 2008).

These data indicate that, in the central Middle Atlas (the global stronghold of the species), average population density has declined by c.50-80% over the last 30 years. Because of political unrest, many other macaque populations have not been censused since 1990 (K. de Smet pers. comm. 2007), so the population trend in these areas cannot be quantified but a declining trend is suspected.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species shows a preference for high-altitude cedar forests, and is also found in oak forests, coastal scrub, and overgrazed rocky slopes with vestigial vegetation. It is confined to inaccessible rocky areas, gorges, and montane areas (from sea level up to approximately 3500 m) due to habitat use conflicts with humans in more favourable areas. All the areas occupied by the macaque are under growing pressure from human activity and habitat availability for M. sylvanus has decreased markedly in recent decades (Camperio Ciani et al. 2005, van Lavieren 2006).

In Algeria, occupied habitats include mixed cedar (Cedrus atlantica) and oak forests; humid zen oak (Quercus canariensis) and cork oak (Quercus suber) mixes; Algerian fir (Abies numidica), cedar and zen oak mixed forests; and gorges dominated by scrub vegetation (Taub 1977; F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007). Moroccan habitats include high cedar forests (Cedrus atlantica), cedar/holm oak (Quercus ilex) mixtures, pure holm oak forests and cliffs and gorges dominated by scrub vegetation. The cedar/oak forests of the Middle Atlas region contain the largest remaining population of M. sylvanus, and are considered to be optimal habitat for the species (Camperio Ciani et al. 2001). In habitats with cedar, macaques can reach densities of 25-40 individuals per km2 or greater, whereas in habitats without cedar much lower densities of 5-7 individuals per km2 are reported (Fa 1984; Mehlman 1989). In all occupied habitats, there is a species of oak available (F. Cuzin pers. comm., 2007).

Its diet is primarily composed of cedar (Cedrus atlantica) and the oak (Quercus sp.), which make up over 50% of its total intake. It eats fruits (33% of its intake), tree leaves (16%), and other plant parts (24%).

M. sylvanus lives in social groups of up to 80 individuals of both sexes with a modal size of 40 individuals (Ménard 2002). Life span in the wild is known to be up to 22 years (Lindenfors 2002). Females reach sexual maturity between 3.5 and 4 years of age and males between 4.5 and 7 years of age. In the wild, average age at first birth is 5.3 years for females (Ménard and Vallet 1993, 1996; Lindenfors 2002), and the birth interval is 1.3 years (Taub 1974 in Fa 1984; Ménard and Vallet 1993, 1996).
Generation Length (years):8

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to this species is habitat loss due to intensive logging, charcoal-burning, firewood-collecting, and land clearance for agriculture at lower altitudes. Habitat degradation resulting from overgrazing by livestock (a problem which is exacerbated by drought) is particularly likely to affect the long-term future of this species. Illegal live trade is also a serious problem. Additional threats include persecution, predation by feral dogs, inappropriate artificial feeding with sweet or salty foods by tourists and local inhabitants, and pollution of the wadis (rivers) associated with forests (E. van Lavieren pers. comm. 2006, F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007). The shooting of monkeys as a result of crop raiding and cedar bark stripping was reported by Deag (1977), but the current extent of this activity is unknown. Conflicts with local people have been reported in Algeria, as a result of crop-raiding by macaques (e.g., villages in Djurdjura National Park in the Grande-Kabylie region: F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007). The importance of different threats varies in different parts of the species' range; it is difficult to generalize.

The destruction and degradation of the macaque’s forest habitat is the most serious threat to the species. Severe habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation have been caused by domestic and industrial consumption of wood, use of fire, clearing for cultivation and overgrazing by sheep and goat herds (Taub 1977, Fa 1984, Camperio Ciani 1986, Menard and Vallet, 1993). This is exacerbated by poor forestry management (often Cedrus atlanticus is favoured and efforts are made to reduce Quercus ilex, but the latter is a crucial resource for macaques: Ménard and Vallet, 1986, 1997).). Additionally, in recent years shepherds have increasingly settled near water sources. As shepherd tribes move into the forest, they often enclose open water sources with cement wells so they can extract water for their herds. As a result, macaques and other wildlife have been excluded from water sources in areas where it was previously accessible to them (Camperio Ciani et al. 2003).

Live trade is also a significant threat to the wild M. sylvanus population. Most of the specimens taken from the wild are for the international pet trade. In comparison with the international trade, offtake for local purposes is relatively low, although M. sylvanus are kept fairly frequently as pets in Morocco (van Lavieren 2004) and local commercial use (remunerated photography in tourist areas and restaurants) has been reported in Algeria (F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007). M. sylvanus seems to be rarely used for food, except for some old reports in Algeria (Deag 1977). Reports of capture for the international pet trade date back to 1977 (Deag 1977), and since then the trade has increased markedly (van Lavieren 2004). Sanctuaries and zoos in Europe have become overstocked with Barbary Macaque infants offered to them by authorities and ex-owners, most infants coming straight from the wild (van Lavieren 2004). Infant M. sylvanus are offered openly and covertly for sale on markets all over Morocco, and prices of up to 200 Euro per animal have been recorded (van Lavieren 2004). Prices of about 100 Euros per animal have been recorded in Algeria, with Chaabet-el-Akhra gorges (Béjaïa) and Yakouren (Akfadou) being critical locations where illegal trade occur (F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007). It is estimated that up to 300 infants are taken annually from the Moroccan habitats (van Lavieren 2004). The maximum sustainable offtake of macaques in the Central Middle Atlas region has been estimated at between 200 and 250 individuals per year (van Lavieren 2004). If the estimate of 300 macaques taken annually from the wild is correct, then the offtake exceeds sustainability by up to 50% per year in this population.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: M. sylvanus receives some protection under national and international legislation. Collection and export of M. sylvanus are regulated by a system of permits in Morocco, but enforcement of the legislation is inadequate. Deag (1977) mentions a maximum quota for trade of 100 macaques per year in Morocco. The species is listed on Appendix II of CITES (EC 338/97, Annex B). In 2000, the European Community suspended imports of M. sylvanus from Algeria and Morocco under the provisions of Article 4.6b of EC Regulation 338/97 because such trade was deemed to have a harmful effect on the species' status.

Over the last few decades there have been repeated surveys of the species in the wild, mainly carried out by scientists from outside the range states. The national authorities are aware of these surveys but do not always support or agree with the outcome (E. van Lavieren pers. comm. 2006). The Moroccan authorities initiated studies on the ecology, demography and genetics of the Moroccan Middle Atlas population to run from 2006-2008 (M. Mouna pers. comm. 2006, N. Menard pers. comm. 2008). These studies are conducted by N. Menard’s team and will provide new information on population demographics and density.

In both Morocco and Algeria, the national forestry departments are responsible for the management and the protection of flora and fauna. There has been much debate about appropriate management of M. sylvanus. The national forestry department in Morocco contends that there are too many macaques in the region (due to the disappearance of predators such as the leopard Panthera pardus), and that they are responsible for the degradation of cedar forests through their bark stripping behaviour. Consequently culls and translocations have been carried out in some areas (F. Cuzin pers. comm. 2007). However, field studies and surveys indicate that the population is declining and that bark stripping behaviour is potentially induced by water shortage (Camperio Ciani et al. 2001, 2003), although the latter assertion is controversial as bark-stripping has been observed to occur when drinking water is freely available and water content in bark is lower than that found in other available food resources (Menard and Qarro 1999). An alternative hypothesis is that Barbary Macaques strip cedar bark when some nutrients they search for are unavailable in other food resources (N. Ménard unpubl. data).

A number of activities have been undertaken to increase public awareness and reduce illegal trade in this species. AAP (a Netherlands-based sanctuary for exotic animals) has initiated a project to combat illegal trade of Barbary Macaques into Europe, involving inter alia awareness raising among potential buyers, cooperation with authorities in the consuming countries and training of customs officers in Spain (E. van Lavieren pers. comm. 2006). In Algeria, the ecological association Amazer-N’-Kefrida carried out public education and awareness raising campaigns in 2006 and 2007, against illegal trade, commercial uses, and improper artificial feeding of Barbary Macaques, closely collaborating with the Gendarmerie Nationale (National Gendarmery), the Algerian Customs, the Laboratory of Ecology and Environment of the Université de Béjaïa, the General Forests Directorate, and the National Parks (F. Belbachir pers. comm. 2007).

Most habitats of M. sylvanus in Algeria have national park status. This is not the case for all the habitats in Morocco. A part of the Rif mountains has national park status, and there are plans to make the cedar/mixed forest in the central Middle Atlas a national park, but a large part of the species' habitat in Morocco lies outside protected areas. Protected areas containing populations of this species include the Toubkal National Park, Eastern High Atlas N.P., Ifran N.P., Talassemtane N.P., Bou Hachem Reserve and Djebel Moussa N.P. in Morocco, and the Djurdjura, Taza, Chréa, and Gouraya National Parks in Algeria. However, the parks in Algeria and Morocco suffer from significant human impact, and all these areas required much stricter protection than is currently in place. Barbary Macaques breed well in captivity. The possibility of reintroducing animals to northern Tunisia, where they went extinct in the 1900s, should also be studied.

Citation: Butynski, T.M., Cortes, J., Waters, S., Fa, J., Hobbelink, M.E., van Lavieren, E., Belbachir, F., Cuzin, F., de Smet, K., Mouna, M., de Iongh, H., Menard, N. & Camperio-Ciani, A. 2008. Macaca sylvanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T12561A3359140. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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