Rare Barbary Macaque Born at Morocco’s National Zoo in Rabat

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Rabat –  Morocco’s National Zoo in Rabat has announced the birth of a Barbary Macaque on May 28. The zoo shared its exciting news on Twitter yesterday.

The Barbary Macaque, or Macaca Sylvanus, is endemic to Morocco, Algeria, and Gibraltar, and is the only species of macaque outside Asia.

In Morocco, it inhabits the cedar forests of the Middle Atlas mountains near Ifrane and west of Marrakech, as well as the Rif Mountains and near Tangier. It is one of the many tourist attractions in the country.

Barbary Macaque distribution in Morocco. Photo credit: IUCN

According to the High Commission for Water and Forestry, Morocco has lost 65% of its macaque population in the last 30 years, mainly due to deforestation and consequential loss of habitat, but also due to hunting, and illegal traffic.

They can sometimes be seen at the Jemaa El Fna plaza in Marrakech, where they are kept on chains, performing tricks or posing for photos with tourists to make money for their handlers. They are also sold illegally in Europe as pets.

The species was listed in 2008 as “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. In 2016 it was also listed as a protected species under the Convention on the International Trade of Species Threatened with Extinction.

Wild Barbary Macaques near Azrou, Morocco.
Wild Barbary Macaques near Azrou, Morocco.

Despite the listings, numbers have still continued to decrease. Morocco does not have a national strategy in place to protect the species, but NGOs like the Barbary Macaque Awareness & Conservation (BMAC) run education and research programs to help preserve the species.

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