Lion-tailed Macaque
Macaca silenus

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Primates
FAMILY: Cercopithecidae

Males stand about 12 - 14 inches at shoulder; females about 2.5 feet at shoulder. Weight 10 - 30 pounds.

Southern India, in Western Ghats mountains

Trees of the wet tropical forests

Wild - (Omnivorous) fruits, seeds, small animals They forage for insects under bark and by breaking dead branches.

Zoo - Fruits, vegetables, primate biscuits

Black, silky fur and a lion-like gray mane around face. Long tail has a slight tuft at the end.


  • Arboreal and diurnal; good swimmers. Large cheek pouches for storing food; useful for these accomplished crop raiders. Can store a stomach's load of food in pouch at one time. When competing for food, or foraging in a dangerous place, they cram it in hastily, with minimal chewing and retire to a safe place to eat in leisure, leaving hands and feet free for running and climbing.
  • All cercopithecine monkeys have the same dental formula as man. Have powerful jaws with muscles arranged for "nutcracker" action. Male develops long canine teeth.
  • Tails used for communication (indicated) by lowering or raising) and also for balance. The first digit can be opposed on both hands and feet. Helpful in feeding, moving, and social activities such as grooming. Hind foot and hand are plantigrade (animal walks on whole foot, not just toes).

Macaques also call to indicate territorial spacing and as an alarm to warn of aerial predators. Live in troops of 20 - 30.

When female is ready to mate, the area under her tail swells and becomes red (cyclic perineal sweling). She also has several calls that differ with the stages of estrus. Usually one offspring born. Female remains in troop with mother, but males leave upon maturity.

CITES App. I; Highly ENDANGERED in the wild; only 2,000 - 4,000 exist. Survival threatened by habitat destruction. It is now restricted to isolated pockets of the forests causing inbreeding in these isolated groups. It is occasionally hunted as a source for medicine as some believe it has magical properties.

"A Grosset All-Color Guide: Monkeys and Apes," Prue Napier
"The Encyclopedia of Mammals," Dr. David MacDonald
"The Pictorial Guide to Living Primates," Noel Rowe