Macaca silenus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Macaca silenus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name/s:
English Lion-tailed Macaque, Wanderoo, Liontail Macaque
French Macaque Ouandérou, Macaque À Queue De Lion, Ouandérou
Spanish Macaca Leonina, Macaco Barbudo
Macaca albibarbatus (Kerr, 1792)
Macaca ferox (Shaw, 1792)
Macaca veter (Audebert, 1798)
Macaca vetulus (Erxleben, 1777)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Kumar, A., Singh, M. & Molur, S.
Reviewer/s: Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Listed as Endangered as the total number of mature individuals is less than 2,500 with no subpopulation having more than 250 mature individuals. There are estimates of a continued decline of over 20% of the populations in the next approximately 25 years, along with hunting and continued loss of habitat.
2004 Endangered
2000 Endangered
1996 Endangered (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Endangered
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)
1988 Endangered (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Endangered (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the Western Ghats hill ranges in southwestern India from the Kalakkadu Hills (8°25’N) north to Anshi Ghat (14°55’N) (Fooden 1975), in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Although the species has a relatively wide range, its area of occupancy is small and severely fragmented (Molur et al. 2003).
India (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu)
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The total wild population is estimated to be less than 4,000 individuals, made up of 47 isolated subpopulations in seven different locations; these subpopulations tend to be small and in forest fragments that are isolated from each other (Molur et al. 2003; Singh et al. 2006). There are estimated to be less than 2,500 mature individuals (Molur et al. 2003). Few subpopulations have the structure and habitat suitable for self-sustainment, where 10-15 groups share or connect their home ranges and interbreed. In the Sirsi-Honnavara rainforests of the northern Western Ghats in Karnataka, for instance, a subpopulation consisting of 32 groups in a contiguous tract of habitat exists where less than 6 groups survived 20 years prior in the early 1980s (Kumara and Singh 2004). The forests of Kerala host up to 1,216 adult lion-tailed macaques, according to a large study using estimates from forest sightings (Easa et al. 1997). In Tamil Nadu, the Anaimalai Hills support about 500 individuals, though only two subpopulations there are composed of more than 2 groups, one has 7, the other 12 (Singh et al. 2002). Overall the species is declining in forest fragments, and stable in protected areas (Molur et al. 2003).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Mainly arboreal, this species prefers the upper canopy of primary tropical evergreen rainforest (Singh et al. 2002) but may also be found in monsoon forest in hilly country and in disturbed forest. It is even known to persist in areas with human-planted fruit trees such as Jack fruit, guava, passion fruit, and others, although populations fluctuate based on fruit tree availability within a forest fragment. They range in elevation from 100 to 1,800 m (Molur et al. 2003). They are frugivorous/insectivorous.

The species seems largely to be a seasonal breeder, with births temporally clumped along with the fruiting season dictated by monsoonal climate (Singh et al. 2006). In the wild females first give birth at about 80 months, and have an inter-birth period of about 34.3 months. The generation length is approximately 13 years.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat to this species today is habitat fragmentation, with many of these fragments being further decreased. In the past, habitat loss was due mainly to timber harvest and the creation of exotic plantations such as tea, eucalyptus and coffee. Habitat degradation seems to the biggest threat to the conservation of lion-tailed macaques wherever they occur in Kerala (Easa et al. 1997). In private forests and plantations, change in land use is a problem for the species. Hunting is a second major threat, especially in certain parts of its range. In one location, Coorg, with a large area of remaining wet evergreen habitat, the species is highly threatened by non-subsistence and subsistence hunting for food (Kumara and Singh 2004). In some areas, primate meat is preferred as food, and so the animals face serious hunting threats (Kumara and Singh 2004). A local trade exists for pets (Molur et al. 2003), and in Coorg the animals were often hunted in the past for “medicinal” uses. Certain features of the reproductive biology and ecology of this species (such as large inter-birth periods, seasonal resource availability, and female competition for mating opportunities) combine to make it intrinsically rare in the wild. The populations already reduced to low numbers are in special need of active management (Singh et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There should be management of private lands, which hold perhaps a quarter of the remaining populations: this would ideally include maintaining coffee and cardamom plantations where populations remain (the species cannot persist on tea plantations). The second major need is to improve the remaining fragments that are not in conflict with agriculture. Further management of this species requires the remediation of the effects of habitat disturbance and fragmentation, including the linking of forest fragments and the manipulation of demographic structures. Because females often choose new males as mates, and the dispersal of new males is restricted due to habitat isolation, such mating opportunities should be offered through the translocation of males between groups. Small populations might also be receptive to certain tree species that, while offering shade to the farmers who grow coffee, also offer fruits and seeds on which these monkeys can subsist (Singh et al. 2006).

Areas where lion-tailed macaques occur consist of protected areas, nominally-protected areas, and unprotected areas. In Karnataka the list of protected areas includes the Brahmagiri Sanctuary, Kudremukh National Park, Mookambika Sanctuary, Pushpagiri Sanctuary, Sharavathi Valley Sanctuary, Someshwara Sanctuary, and Talakaveri Sanctuary. In Kerala the protected areas include the Aralam Sanctuary, Chimmony Sanctuary, Neyyar Sanctuary, Peppara Sanctuary, Parambikulam Sanctuary, Periyar National Park, Periyar Sanctuary, Shendurney Sanctuary, and Silent Valley National Park, and in Tamil Nadu protected areas include Indira Gandhi Sanctuary, Kalakkad Sanctuary, Mundanthurai Sanctuary, and Grizzled Giant Squirrel Sanctuary (Molur et al. 2003). There is a proposed Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu (Megamalai), in which the species occurs.

This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES, and Schedule I, Part I, of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 amended up to 2002 (Molur et al. 2003). The following are recommended research actions (Molur et al. 2003): genetic research, life history, epidemiology, and limiting factor research. Management actions recommended (Molur et al. 2003) are: limiting factor management, wild population management and monitoring, public education, captive breeding, and captive management (research and preservation of live genome).

Bibliography [top]

Easa, P. S., Asari, P. K. S. and Basha, S. C. 1997. Status and distribution of the endangered lion-tailed macaque Macaca silenus in Kerala, India. Biological Conservation 80(1): 33-37.

Fooden, J. 1975. Taxonomy and evolution of liontail and pigtail macaques (primates: Cercopithecidae). Fieldiana Zoology 67: 1-169.

Groves, C. P. 2001. Primate taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Heltne, P. (ed.). 1985. A review of the Lion-tailed macaque: Status and conservation. Monographs in Primatology, pp. 422. Alan R. Liss, Incorporated, New York, USA.

Hohmann, G. and Sunderraj, F. 1990. Survey of Nilgiri langurs and lion-tail macaques in Tamil Nadu, south India. Primate Conservation 11: 49–53.

Kumara, H. N. and Singh, M. 2004. Distribution and abundance of primates in rain forests of the Western Ghats, Karnataka, India and the conservation of Macaca silenus. International Journal of Primatology 25(5): 1001-1018.

Menon, S. and Poirier, F. 1996. Lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) in a disturbed forest fragment: activity patterns and time budget. International Journal of Primatology 17(6): 969-985.

Molur, S., Brandon-Jones, D., Dittus, W., Eudey, A., Kumar, A., Singh, M., Feeroz, M. M., Chalise, M., Priya, P. and Walker, S. 2003. Status of South Asian Primates: Conservation Assessment and Managment Plan Report. Workshop Report, 2003. Zoo Outreach Organization/CBSG-South Asia, Coimbatore, India.

Singh, M., Krishna, B. A. and Singh, M. 2006. Dominance hierarchy and social grooming in female lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) in the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Biosciences 31(3): 369-377.

Singh, M., Kumara, H. N., Ananda Kumar, M. and Sharma, A. K. 2001. Behavioural responses of lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) to a changing habitat in a tropical rain forest fragment in the Western Ghats, India. Folia Primatologica 72(5): 278-291.

Singh, M., Kumar, M. A., Kumara, H. N., Sharma, A. K. and Kaumanns, W. 2002. Distribution, population structure, and conservation of lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) in the Anaimalai Hills, Western Ghats, India. American Journal of Primatology 57(2): 91-102.

Umapathy, G. and Kumar, A. 2000. The demography of the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) in rain forest fragments in the Anamalai Hills, South India. Primates 41(2): 119-126.

Citation: Kumar, A., Singh, M. & Molur, S. 2008. Macaca silenus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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