In The Wild
The Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus), also known as the Barbary ape, was once widespread throughout North Africa but now it is only found in small areas of Morocco and Algeria. There is also an introduced population of Barbary macaques on Gibraltar, which make it the only primate, apart from humans, to live in Europe and the only macaque species to live outside of Asia.
Barbary macaques live in high-altitude cedar forests, oak forests, coastal scrub, and overgrazed rocky slopes with vestigial vegetation. They are mainly confined to inaccessible rocky areas, gorges, and montane areas, because conflict with humans has driven them from more favourable areas.
These primates have a medium-length buff-brown coat with lighter undersides, with a dark pink face and a short, vestigial tail.
Barbary macaques feed on leaves roots, and fruit, but will also eat insects. They live in social groups of around 10 – 30 individuals of both sexes, although group size can sometimes grow up to 80 individuals. The group is matriarchal, with its hierarchy determined by lineage to the lead female. Unlike other macaques, the males participate in rearing the young, and much of their time is spent grooming and playing with them. Females of the group tend to favour males that spend more time contributing to parental duties.
Barbary macaques are facing many threats in the wild. Habitat loss due to intensive logging and land-clearing for farming puts a great deal of pressure on the fragmented populations of macaques that are left. Overgrazing by livestock further degrades the macaques’ habitat, and this is made worse by drought. Human persecution and predation by feral dogs are yet more threats to this species.