Sulawesi-Crested Macaque

Scientific Name: Macaca nigra
Irish Name: Meacaic chíorach Sulawesi
IUCN Status: Critically endangered

The Sulawesi-crested macaque is the smallest of seven species of short-tailed macaques. They have entirely black faces and black bodies except for the striking bright pink, leathery, hairless pads on their bums. They also have a distinctive tuft of black hair on the top of thier heads which forms a backward pointing ‘punk-like’, mokawk-crest from which their name derives. They have a very short tail, approx. 2 cm long, which is difficult to see. Because of their short tail they are often wrongfully referred to as apes.

Sulawesi-Crested Macaque

The Sulawesi-crested macaque is the smallest of seven species of short-tailed macaques. They have entirely black faces and black bodies except for the striking bright pink, leathery, hairless pads on their bums. They also have a distinctive tuft of black hair on the top of thier heads which forms a backward pointing ‘punk-like’, mokawk-crest from which their name derives. They have a very short tail, approx. 2 cm long, which is difficult to see. Because of their short tail they are often wrongfully referred to as apes.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Sulawesi-crested macaques live on the tip of the most northern-eastern peninsula of Sulawesi island in Indonesia. There is also a population of Sulawesi-crested macaques living on the island of Pulau Bacan which was introduced there in the 1860. They live in lowland and mountain tropical forests in these areas but are also known to live in smaller numbers in mangroves, logged forests and in areas of dense human and agricultural habitation.

How long do they live?

They live for 18 years in the wild and up to 34 years in zoos.

What do they eat?

Sulawesi-crested macaques are frugivores which means they mainly eat fruit. However, they have a diverse diet and feed from 145 different plant species, so they also consume seeds, leaves, flowers and grass seeds. They will also eat fungi, birds eggs and small vertebrates such as lizards and frogs. Because they eat such a diversity of fruit, they are important dispersers of seed for a number of trees in their habitat.

Group name

Sulawesi-crested macaques live in groups called troops which can be made up of 5-25 individuals. Troops can be larger especially if they are living in areas where there is an abundance of food resources.

Zoo location

The Sulawesi-crested macaques can be found in the Asian Forest habitat at Dublin Zoo.

Closest related species / sister species

The closest related species to the Sulawesi-crested macaque are the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenusi)) and the pigtail macaque (Macaca nemestrina).

Animal class

Mammalia

Animal order

Primate

Fun facts

Secret snacks

If feeding in a dangerous area, Sulawesi-crested macaques will stuff thier cheek pouches with food which they will eat later in a safer place!

Bottoms up!

Sulawesi-crested macaques embrace and sniff each other's rear end as a form of greeting!

Hair me out

Sulawesi-crested macaques can move the tuft of hair present on their crown to express their emotions.

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Family Life

Sulawesi-crested macaques spend their days travelling, foraging and feeding in trees and on the forest floor. They are highly social and spend a lot of time grooming each other. They are excellent climbers and, typically, they sleep in the trees.

They have a polygynandrous mating system which means that both males and females can have many mates. They can breed all year round but they are more active between August and June. Birthing peaks between January-May. Females can give birth every 18-20 months. The the mother feeds the infant for about 1 year. However, the infant will begin to spend less time with its mother from about 4 months.

Baby name

Infant or baby

Gestation (pregnancy) period

About 6 months

Number of young at birth

Usually 1 infant is born

Age at maturity

Males and females reach sexual maturity between 4-6 years.

Adult male name

Male

Adult female name

Female

Size male adult

Height: 52 - 57cm
Weight : 9.9kg (average)

Size female adult

Height: 44.5 - 57cm
Weight: 5.5kg (average)

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Conservation

Critically Endangered

The Sulawesi-crested macaqe is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation in Nature.

Current population estimate

The overall population on Sulawesi island is estimated at between 4,000-6,000 individuals and a booming 100,000 on the island of Pulau Bacan where they were introduced in the 1860s. The population trend is decreasing.

Threats

Sulawesi crested macaques are threatened by the clearing of their habitat for logging and agriculture. They are also hunted for bush meat. The young may be captured for pets.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin Zoo provides annual funding to Selamatkan Yaki and their EARS project (Education and Awareness Raising) in Indonesia. This organisation is based in Sulawesi and is involved with Sulawesi-crested macaque conservation. In 2017, Registrar/Research and Conservation Coordinator, Sandra Molloy, visited Selamatkan Yaki and observed many aspects of their work.

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FAQs

  • What do macaque monkeys eat?

    Macaques are primarily frugivores. Fruit makes up 60-90% of their diet but they also eat leaves, flowers, roots and invertebrates and small vertebrates.

  • Where do macaques live?

    Most macaque species are distributed throughout Asia (e.g. at the Japanese macaque, Sulawesi-crested macaque). But the Barbary macaque
    (Macaca sylvanus) is found in North Africa and Gibralter.

  • How does living on an island impact the macaques?

    Animals whose habitat is restricted (e.g. living on an island) and/or whose population is relatively small, face a number of genetic and environmental
    threats. The isolation of the population can lead to inbreeding resulting in a loss in genetic variation. This makes the population vulnerable to disease
    outbreaks and environmental disasters. Also, as the population increases it may reach a size where resources such as food and space are in short supply.

  • Is lion tailed macaque endangered?

    Yes, the lion-tailed macaque is classified as Endangered by the IUCN.

  • Where do Japanese macaques live?

    The Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) live throughout Japan in a very diverse range of habitats from sub-tropical lowlands to sub-alpine areas.
    More Japanese macaques are found on the southern island of Yaku-Shima than anywhere else in Japan.

  • Do macaques have tails?

    All species of macaques have tails apart from the barbary macaque. Barbary macaques are unique in that they lack a tail. For this reason we often hear them referred to as Barbary “apes,” even though they are monkeys, as apes have no tails.

  • How long do macaque monkeys live?

    Their lifespan varies depending on the species. e.g. the Sulawesi-crested macaque and the long-tailed macaque have an average life expectancy of
    20 years in the wild; Rhesus macaques 25 years and Japanese macaques 27 years.

  • Where do barbary macaques live?

    The Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) is the only macaque species found outside of Asia and the only primate species found north of the Sahara in Africa.

    There are Barbary macaque populations in Morocco and Algeria, and an introduced population on Gibraltar. They live in a range of habitats e.g. mixed oak forests and cliff faces. Like other macaques, they live in troops moving around thier habitat to forage for food on the ground and in trees.

  • Why is the lion tailed macaque endangered?

    As a result of timber harvesting and agriculture ,only 1% of lion-tailed macaques original habitat remains and they have difficulty adapting to the new human habitats.

    They are also hunted for their meat and fur.

  • Where do toque macaques live?

    The toque macaque (Macaca sinica) is native to the island of Sri Lanka where they live in high and low altitude tropical forests, dry evergreen forests and wet lowland forests.

  • How do Japanese macaques keep warm in winter?

    In the winter, Japanese macaques will huddle together on the ground for warmth in sleeping groups which grow larger with lower temperatures. In Shiga Heights in central Japan, the macaques enter and remain in hot springs in the winter, probably to regulate their body temperature
    behaviourally.

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Sulawesi-Crested Macaques Conservation

See what Dublin Zoo is doing to help macaques in the wild
Find out more