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Lion-tailed macaqueLion-tailed Macaque

Order:  Primates

Family:  Cercopithecidae

Scientific Name:  Macaca silenus


Description The lion-tailed macaque is a medium-sized monkey with a ruff of long gray hair on each side of the face.  The rest of the fur is black, and there is a small tuft of hair at the end of the tail.  The lion-tailed macaque has an elongated snout and cheek pouches to carry food while foraging.  Its upper canines are elongated and tusklike.  Like other primates, it has hands and feet adapted for grasping.  The average weight is 15 pounds for adult males, and 11 pounds for females.


RangeHome Range:   Western Ghats Mountains of southwestern India


Habitat Type:   Rainforest (prefers mature forests)


Life Span:  15-20 years in the wild;  30 years or more in captivity


Reproduction:   Lion-tailed macaques give birth to a single offspring occasionally twins) after a gestation period of about 180 days.  Births are most common in the wet season, when food is easier to find.  The female cares for her young for more than a year.  Females remain in their natal group and can give birth when they are 5 years old.  Males disperse shortly before adolescence, and they reach sexual maturity at 8 years.


Diet in the Wild:   mostly fruit, will also eat leaves, berries, insects, and seeds


Diet in the Zoo:  fresh fruit, monkey chow biscuits


General Information:   Lion-tailed macaques live in groups of approximately 10-20 individuals, including related females and their immature offspring, and 1-3 adult males.  Each group travels over approximately 2 square miles during a year.  The territory has a core area that is defended against other groups, but the edges of the territory may be shared.  Males maintain their group’s territory by calling loudly as a signal to nearby groups.  Other macaques that hear the male’s calls will usually move away.  Within a group, dominance is based on the matriline – young macaques born to a dominant female will be dominant themselves.  Group members communicate with calls and facial expressions.  A grimace with the teeth showing shows submission and usually helps to reduce aggression from a more dominant group member, and a threat is displayed by staring with the mouth open (but not showing the teeth).  The lion-tailed macaque is one of the most arboreal macaques, spending more than 99% of its time in the trees.  When on the ground, they walk quadrupedally (on all four feet), and swim well.  Like other macaques, they have good sight, hearing, and sense of smell.  They are diurnal.  Captive animals were found to make and use tools, but this behavior has not been seen in wild populations. 


Predatorshumans (they are sometimes hunted for food by native people)


Conservation Status:  Lion-tailed macaques are classified by IUCN Red List as Endangered, US Fish, Wildlife Service as Endangered, and CITES Appendix l.  The species has a limited range and reproduces slowly.  Much of their rainforest habitat has been cleared for agriculture.  The wild population is estimated at only 1700 individuals, but it is increasing and the largest population has been incorporated into a biosphere reserve.  The captive population is growing quickly.




Walker’s Mammals of the World, 6th Ed., Vol. I, pp. 569-570, 580-588.