Species: Macaca silenus
According to Fleagle’s Primate Adaptation and Evolution the genus Macaca has the widest distribution of any nonhuman primate genus. They are, again according to Fleagle, the macaques’ ability to coexist with humans is greater than all other primates. The lion tailed macaque is an exception to the rule. They live in the Western Ghats region of India and is believed to have evolved from Macaca paleoindica – one of the first macaques to have reached India and Asia about 5 MYA.
The lion tailed macaque is one of the larger macaques – with males getting up to 24 inches tall and weighing up to 22 pounds. They live in groups averaging 20-30 individuals containg one to three males, the rest being females and juveniles. They have the lowest birthrate of any macaque (consequently, they are highly endangered). They are highly territorial and are the only macaque in which the male has a special call to mark territorial boundries. They live in tropical or evergreen forests and subsist on fruit and insects (and the occasional lizard, frog or small mammal – animal matter forms about 37 % of their diet).
As of 2004, lion tailed macaques numbered less than 2,500 mature individuals with a further 500 existing in zoos (as part of a species survival plan).