Saturday, May 28, 2016

the barbary ape

These elegant fellows are the only species of macaque found outside Asia, in the Atlas and Rif Mountain ranges of Morocco and Algeria. They are the same species that were introduced to Gibraltar, and interestingly, they are matriarchal— something I learned after noticing that several of the adults who were holding babies were male. Apparently the males are selected by the females for their ability to care for the young, which they raise collectively.

I'm generally not a fan of monkeys— creepy experiences with them in Nepal have left me suspicious, but these ones were so pretty and had no interest in us. Expecting that a threatened species might be hard to see on our own, we stopped by the Cèdre Gouraud Forest, were a troupe had grown accustomed to loud, selfie-snapping tourists flinging peanuts at them. It was a bit sad, but at least they seemed to be in good health...

Later, while driving down a winding forest road near Kharzouza, we caught a flash of gold crossing the road— twenty or thirty macaques! There they were, minding their own business, picking through the leaves and soil while giving us a lazy side-eye. We stopped for a while to photograph them from the car, not wanting to disturb them.

Look at how shiny and lush this guy's fur is! It looks so soft...

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