11 July 2006

Bonnet Macaque

On our daily walk through the conservation area, I was startled to see a lone monkey scampering through the underbrush. I have never seen a monkey in this area before as there is too much open, exposed flat land and not enough high trees to clamber up for safe sanctuary.

No idea where he was heading and to begin with thought he was one of my dogs so started to call to him. The monkey seemed to have experienced some degree of human socialization because although he did not actually come, he did appear very interested. Perhaps it was my mad, bad dogs that helped the monkey make his final decision, TO RUN AWAY!

Bonnet Macaque monkeys are not hard to spot at Tiruvannamalai; they are everywhere! Being so smart they have easily made the transition to the increasing urbanisation of this area. They are as easy to spot in the middle of the bustling marketplace in town as they are on the hillside of Arunachala.

Bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata) have a grayish brown back and a well-defined circular tuft of hair (hence the derivative of its name bonnet). Their tail is two-thirds the length of its body. The monkeys are diurnal, arboreal, and terrestrial. Bonnet macaques are good swimmers.

They search the ground for insects and chase flying grasshoppers. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, leaves, flowers, cereals. Bonnet macaques eat approximately 40 different plant species, as well as being necessarily conciliatory at temples and homes to get tasty handouts!

Adult males spend more time on the ground. These macaques sit in contact with others or huddle together when they rest. The monkey is around 35-60 cm long plus a tail of 35-68 cm. Males weigh 5.5 - 9 kg., females 3.5 - 4.5 kg. A Bonnet Macaque monkey can live more than 30 years.

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