Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Barbary Macaques | Moroccan Wildlife

When I think of African wildlife I think of the Big 5, of lions and giraffes, elephants and hippopotamuses (or is it hippopotami?). I knew I wasn't going to see any of these amazing creatures, Morocco is simply too far north but that didn't stop me having my own David Attenborough moment while staying in Ouzoud.
This would be a far more effective picture if their camouflage was worse.

Best know for it's waterfalls (see my post here) Ouzoud is also one of the few remaining havens for Barbary Macaque monkeys, found only in the Atlas Mountains, the El-Kouf National park in Libya and a very small population on the island of Gibraltar. These endangered creatures are very social, living in groups of up to 100 Macaques, and unaggressive- fitting in perfectly with the laid back attitude of Ouzoud.

Barbary's reach maturity at 3 or 4 years old and can live for as long as 30 years. I was fortunate enough to see some brand new Macaques who were still clinging to their mother's backs.

Raising young is an important role in the life of a Macaque, regardless of parentage everyone joins in to help with the children- males and females. Barbarys have a matriarchal social order and the higher up the chain a female is the more contact time she has with the offspring.

Grooming is an important daily activity for these monkeys, helping to reinforce social bonds and lower stress levels.

Unfortunately deforestation of cedar forests in the Atlas Mountains has been reducing their habitat. Another problem these monkeys face is unscrupulous tour guides and visitors who exploit the Macaques love of sweet things by giving them packets of processed sugar so they can pose for photographs. There are signs all over the place telling people in all languages how bad human food is for Macaques so hopefully this practice will end soon. Unfortunately the monkeys, not being able to read, are unawre how bad for their health human food is and have taken to raiding bins.

Sugar? No, this isn't sugar, it's erm... Crack!
Joy x
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  1. They can be so humans at times, quite terrifying even but yet so fascinating! Haven't seen them in their natural habit though so far but that must have been a pretty cool experience!

  2. I have always wanted a pet monkey... a friend of mine was given one for a wedding present (and thaaaaaaaat's a story for another time), and it lived with them for years. Great guy!

    Country Girl's Daybook

    1. I've been reading about this, becasue it's a real problem in Morocco, and you probably don't want a pet monkey. They've never been domesticated as a species so more likely not any individual monkey seperated and sold as a pet will go a bit insane, they become very destructive if they're bored and they get bored really easily. In monkey circles biting is a perfectly aceptable thing to do, it's the equivalent of dogs barking, and not only is being bitten no fun most monkeys carry Herpes B which doesn't bother them, but is potentially fatal to humans. Also the human cold sore virus is usually fatal to monkeys. Most monkeys that are sold as pets have been stolen from the wild and smuggled out of the homeland illegally, it's one of the reasons Barbary Macaques are now an endangered species, people just steal the babies so group numbers never grow. That said, my dad used to frequent a pub that had a mascot monkey in a little waistcoat, you had to guard your drinks because this monkey was especially fond of bitter. It would also steal cigarettes out of peoples mouths and sit on the bar, smoking and drinking a pint, which is a pretty awesome mental image in a lot of ways.

    2. Yeah I wouldn't recommend it either. I sell pets in my part time job and even the African fish can be real assholes.
      Water Painted Dreams xo

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