Vanishing Stump-Tailed Macaques

Stump-Tailed Macaques Vanishing Stump Vanishing Stump-Tailed Macaques

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

Vanishing Stump stump-tailed macaque also called Bear macaque is a species of monkey found in South Asia and is scientifically known as Macaca arctoides. It belongs to the Cercopithecidae family of Primates. Due to population reduction in the past and projected decline by at least 30% over the coming 30 years (three generations), the animal is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in Red List of Threatened Species.

The species which are likely to move into the endangered category in the mid-term future if the causal factors continue to operate are known as vulnerable species. However, the endangered species are those which are in danger of extinction and whose survival is unlikely if the causal factors continue to be operating. Their numbers have been reduced to a critical level or whose habitats have been so drastically reduced that they deemed to be in immediate danger of extinction.

Distribution Range:

Stump-tailed macaque is distributed from North-eastern India and South-western China into the North-west tip of West Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula. It is also found in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and far Eastern Bangladesh. In North-eastern India, Stump-tailed macaques are found in states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura.

There is an introduced population in Tanaxpillo, Veracruz, Mexico an island not inhabited by humans, where they live in conditions similar to their natural habitat in Asia. The tropical flora of Tanaxpillo consists of evergreen trees, vines, shrubs, grasses, cacti, and water plants and the Stump-tailed macaques coexist with iguanas, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, birds and insects.

Physical Characteristics:

The Stump-tailed macaque has long, thick dark brown fur covering its body, but its face and tail are hairless. Infants are born white and darken as they mature. As the animal ages, its bright pink or red face darken to brown or nearly black and lose most of the hairs. Males are larger than females, measuring between 51.7 and 65 cm long and weighing between 9.7 and 10.2 kg. Females measure between 48.5 and 58.5 cm and weigh between 7.5 and 9.1 kg. The animal has a short tail measuring between 3.2 and 6.9 cm.

The canine teeth of males are more elongated than those of females which they use for asserting dominance within their group. Like other macaques, this species has cheek pouches to store food for a short period of time. Stump-tailed macaques travel quadrupedally and usually on the ground for they are not very agile in trees. They do not have the ability to swim unlike other species of macaques.

Habitat and Ecology:

Stump-tailed macaques are generally found in tropical and subtropical broadleaf evergreen forests, in different elevations depending on the amount of rainfall in the area. Generally, they live in evergreen rainforests below 1500 m and sub-tropical evergreen forests between 1800 and 2500 m. They depend on rainforests for food and shelter and are not found in dry forests except where it ranges in the Himalayan region of India, only spending time is secondary forests if it is bordering primary tropical forests. The thick fur of the animal enables us to live in cold climates, up to 4,000 m.

Stump-tailed macaque is diurnal and is considered arboreal as well as terrestrial. It is primarily frugivorous but also eats seeds, leaves, and roots of plants. It also hunts freshwater crabs, frogs, bird eggs and insects.

Stump-tailed macaques spend the early morning, until midday in traveling and feeding. During the middle day, they stop traveling and rest in the shade spending time on social activities such as grooming while juveniles and adolescents play. In the late afternoon, foraging begins again as they travel to their sleeping site. The daily range of Stump-tailed macaques is between 2 and 3 km.

Stump-tailed macaques have low reproductive rates compared to other macaque species. Females reach sexual maturity around four years of age. Most mating occurs in October and November in the wild. Females begin to produce offspring between 4.5 and 5 years of age and reproduce for about 17 years of age. Males reach sexual maturity around four years of age. Stump-tailed macaques are promiscuous in their mating behavior. Dominance plays a big role in who gets a mate. Gestation lasts 177 days and females give birth about every two years in the wild. After birth infants are nursed for 9 months. They become independent in about 1.5 years. Stump-tailed macaque has a generation time of 10-12 years.

Threats to their Survival:

Hunting and habitat loss are the main threats to the survival of the Stump-tailed macaque.

The animal is hunted and traded for food, sport, and traditional medicine. There is a local trade for bones, meat for food and live animals as pets. The Stump-tailed macaque is indiscriminately hunted over almost its entire distribution range in India.

Habitat loss is mainly due to Jhum cultivation, selective logging, timber and firewood collection for charcoal, building roads, dams, power lines, and fisheries, deliberately set fires and soil erosion. In India, much of its habitat is affected by Jhum cultivation.

The population of Stump-tailed macaque is critically threatened in India.

Conservation:

The species is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Furthermore, it is listed in Schedule II under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 amended up to 2002. In India Stump-tailed macaques are found in a number of protected areas like; Balpakram National Park, Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, Mullen National Park, Namdapha Wildlife Sanctuary and Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary.

The following actions are needed to conserve the Stump-tailed macaque in India.

1. Strict enforcement of the Wildlife Protection Act and CITES.

2. Regular monitoring of the population of Stump-tailed macaques in their habitat.

3. Putting a complete ban on Jhum cultivation in the habitats of Stump-tailed macaque.

4. Checking of the habitat loss of Stump-tailed macaque.

5. Restoring degraded habitats of the animal.

6. Promotion of captive breeding of the animal and subsequent release in its natural habitat.

7. The establishment of a network of protected areas in north-east India for their conservation.

8. Public education regarding the ecological/biological significance of the animal.

Conclusion:

Conclusively it can be said that the population of Stump-tailed macaque is fast declining due to hunting and habitat loss hence the animal has been listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in Red List of IUCN. The dwindling population of Stump-tailed macaque is a matter of concern and needs attention to conserve this primate species.
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Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph.D. in Botany with an area of specialization in Ecology. He is an active Researcher having four dozen published Research Papers in the journals of national and international fame.

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