STATUS IN THE WILD: Endangered
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Lion-tailed macaques are among the smallest and most endangered macaque species. They generally range from fifteen to twenty-five pounds. They have shiny black hair on the majority of the body, with the exception of an impressive grey mane around the face. Their name refers to the small tuft of hair at the end of the long, skinny tail that looks similar to a lion’s. The tail can be up to half the length of their body. Males tend to be larger and have bigger canine teeth. Both sexes have special adaptations that minimize the time spent on the ground foraging. They have pouches that open beside the lower teeth and extend down the side of the neck. These pouches can store an equivalent to their stomach’s capacity.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
This species lives in groups ranging between four and thirty individuals, although most are between ten and twenty. These groups are comprised of a single adult male, several adult females, and their young. Occasionally, a group can have more than one adult male, but that is not common. Lion- tailed macaques spend most of their lives in the trees to avoid predators, like leopards, but will sometimes come to the ground to play or forage for food. These primates use body language and a variety of seventeen distinct vocalizations to communicate. Groups are territorial, and the male will use calls to denote and defend boundaries.
There is no specific breeding season for lion-tailed macaques. When the female is ready to mate, the small region under the tail will swell slightly. After a gestation period of around six months, the female will give birth to one offspring. The baby is born with dark, thin, black hair that will thicken after two months. Female offspring tend to stay in the existing group to help raise babies of other generations. Once the male offspring have reached maturity they will split off and form their own bachelor group, until hopefully finding a group of females to defend. Lion-tailed macaques can live up to 20 years in the wild.
Lion-tailed macaques are found in the western Ghats Mountains of southwest India.
This species is mainly arboreal and prefers the upper canopy of the tropical evergreen rainforest but have also been found in the monsoon forests in hilly country.
Macaques tend to be opportunistic feeders. They primarily eat fruit, bark, leaves, insects, eggs, small birds, reptiles or amphibians.