Fauna : Bonnet tailed Macaque (Macaca radiata)
Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 : ScheduleII
Length : Males-head body 51- 60 cms(20 - 23 inches),
Tail: 51- 69 cms (20-27 inches)
Females-head body 34 - 53 cms(13-20 inches)
Tail: 48 - 63 cms(19 - 25 inches)
Weight: Males 5.7-11.6 kgs(12.5 - 25 lbs.)
Females 2.9 - 5.5 kgs (6.4 - 12 lbs)


A medium sized macaque, this monkey is a common sight over much of South India and quite unmistakable with its distinctively long tail. The tuft of unruly hair on its head does not quite cover the front where it is neatly parted. The hair radiates outwards to look like a cap, giving it its common name. Generally olive brown in colour, the underparts are distinctly lighter, with a touch of grey. The newborn are a very dark brown in colour. A neat and well groomed monkey, they can look scruffy due the seasonal variations in colour and the texture of the coat .


There are two races. The Southern race, diluta, found south of a line connecting Pondicherry with Shencottah, is paler.


The range extends throughout out Southern India with the northern limits being Bombay on the West and the Godavari River on the East. Replacing the Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) of Northern India, this monkey is hard to miss in small towns, villages, at temples, picnic spots and along roads and highways lined with fig trees.

Though their typical forest habitat consists of open dry forests, this is a highly adaptable creature, and is found from sea level upto altitudes of 2000mts. They are happy in the semi desert conditions of the central Deccan plateau, as well as in the wet forests of the Western Ghats where they occupy the edge of forest and open country and human settlements. Groups are also found in wet evergreen forests along with Lion tailed Macaques (Macaca silenus).

As its long tail indicates, the Bonnet Macaque is more arboreal than the Rhesus Macaque. It spends long hours foraging. Its diet is versatile consisting of a variety of leaves, fruits, shoots, flowers, insects, grubs as well as birds eggs and lizards. While foraging for food, it will often examine food closely and rub it vigorously before putting it into its mouth. Some fruits are washed before eating. Wasteful feeders, in the forest it will drop copious quantities of plucked or partly eaten leaves and fruit to the ground.

Forest dwelling troops of this monkey are very arboreal and generally quite shy. They will not allow close approach by humans and if feeding on the ground will quickly scuttle up to the higher branches of trees. They are good swimmers and will frequently swim across small streams and pools.

On the other hand, troops that have been exposed to humans display remarkable boldness, which varies with the degree of exposure. Around picnic spots, railway stations and bus stops troops often become very bold and individuals will actually intimidate people and even snatch food which they will quickly stuff into their mouth to fill their cheek pouches as fast as possible. At places where they overlap with Common Langur (Semnopithecus entellus), these monkeys will often intimidate their much larger cousins, and chase them off with little effort.

Both in the forest and near human settlements troop size varies from 20 to 30 individuals. While resting and sleeping at night individuals will invariably huddle up and rest together in the higher branches. Scientific studies have revealed that this is a very social monkey with well-defined hierarchy, headed by a dominant male. They have distinct territories, which can extend over 5 sq.km. in area. These are vigorously defended if another troop were to intrude. They communicate through a complex variety of facial expressions a variety of calls, which are an integral part of the troops social structure. The whole troop is prone to go into spasms of absolute terror at the sight of a predator, particularly Leopards (Panthera pardus), at which time they will utter a sharp short screech and will continue to do so till the dreaded enemy is well out of sight


Bonnet macaques attain sexual maturity at the age of 3 to 4 years and this is true of both sexes. Mating occurs throughout the year. A receptive female may be mated successively by a number of males. The young are born after a gestation period of 150 to 180 days. Generally a single infant is born and clings to its mother's belly from birth and will remain very close to her for the first 6 months of its life. Very playful, infants will interact with each other and play while the adults are resting.

They will start sampling solid food from an early age, but will only be weaned when they are about a year old. In captivity they live from between 12 to 15 years. They may live upto 30 years.
Prater S.1948 : The book of Indian Animals, BNHS/Oxford University Press
Roonwal M.L. & Mohnot S.M. 1977 : Primates of South Asia, Harvard

Krishnan M. 1975: India's wildlife in 1959-70; BNHS

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