Lion-tailed Macaque is one of the subspecies of macaque, found only in the Western Ghats of South India. Known by the scientific name of Macaca silenus, it has life expectancy of 20 years in the wild and upto 30 years in captivity. Lion-tailed macaques spend most of their time on trees and are excellent swimmers.
The coat of Lion-tailed macaque is covered with dark-brown or black
fur. One of its unique features is its silver-white mane, which
stretches on from the cheeks to the chin, while surrounding the head.
This mane has led to the macaque being named as the 'Bear Ape' also. The
face of Lion-tailed macaque of India is free from any hair and is black
The entire length of the Lion-tailed macaque is somewhere between 45
and 60 cm. The tail is of a medium size and reaches a length of
approximately 25 cm. At the end of the tail is a black tuft, resembling
the tail of a lion. A male Lion-tailed macaque is slightly bigger than
the female (5 kg) and weighs around 7 kg.
Lion-tailed macaque is a diurnal creature and is quite good at climbing
trees. It prefers to stay away from humans, unlike the other macaques.
Lion-tailed macaques are sociable creatures and are seen mostly in
groups. The group is a hierarchical one, consisting of ten to twenty
members (both male and female). The leader of the group is a male
macaque and the young males leave the group the moment they attain
maturity. Lion-tailed macaques are territorial in nature and defend the
area they believe to be theirs.
The diet of a Lion-tailed macaque comprises of indigenous fruits,
leaves, buds, insects, small vertebrates and invertebrates. In case of
shortage, they can turn to fruits, seeds, shoots, pith, flower, cone,
mesocarp and other parts of many non-indigenous plants. In Indian zoos,
they are given a diet of fruits, vegetables, sunflower seeds, granary
bread, peanuts, maize and special primate dietary supplement pellets.
Lion-tailed macaque of India reaches the age of maturity 2.5 to 4 years
after birth, depending upon its sex. Its mating period extends to the
whole of the year. The gestation period is six months, after which a
single young one is born.
Status and Threats
Lion-tailed macaques are one of the most rare as well as threatened
primates. Presently, their population is estimated to be somewhere
around 2,500. The greatest threat faced by Lion-tailed macaques is the
deterioration of their natural habitat. Since they stay away from human
settlements, this deterioration has led to a sharp decline in their
number. At the same time, they are widely hunted for their meat and fur.
The natural habitat of the Lion-tailed macaque comprises of tropical
dry forest and tropical rainforests of India.
Facts about Lion Tailed Macaque