Mammals

Macaques of Thailand

 

The commonest and often most boisterous of all the primate genus’ in Thailand are the macaques. Known to most people are the semi habituated long tailed and pig tailed macaques that can be seen close to various temples or at roadside food hangouts in some national parks. But there are 4 other less common species as well in Thailand and they can be very difficult to find and encounter..

Thailand is home to 6 species in total of the Old World Monkey's genus of Macaca, namely:

 

Stump-tailed macaque - Macaca arctoides

Assam macaque - Macaca assamensis

Crab-eating (AKA Long tailed macaque) - Macaca fascicularis

Rhesus macaque - Macaca mulatta

Northern pigtail macaque - Macaca leonina

Southern pig-tailed macaque - Macaca nemestrina

 

All of Thailand’s macaques species live in troops of varying size. They are all arboreal but are equally at home on the ground; they are all also able to swim. The males dominate the troop and live within a clear but shifting dominance rank order. Macaques are considered highly intelligent but may be perceived as bad-tempered as adults, as many tourists who have come into contact with habituated semi wild animals can attest. Their truely wild relatives are much more shy and shun human contact.

 

Depending on the species, they live in forests, on plains, or among cliffs and rocky terrain. Macaques are omnivorous, and they possess large cheek pouches in which they can carry extra food. 

In all six species breeding occurs year-round. Single young are born after about six months’ gestation and become adult at four years. 

The pelage color of each is a variation on shades of brown with the stump-tailed macaque having a distinct reddy brown pelage. The young of each is born a different color to the adult and will change colour overtime, this difference includes color banding is some species such as in the adolescent rhesus macaques. The tail varies between the six species and may be long (crab-eating macaque), of moderate length (rhesus and assam macaques), short (pig tailed macaques), or seem absent (stump-tailed) and can be used as the first aid in species identification. 

Size and colour differs between the sexes and between the species, as well as intra-species. That is why you will often find mis-identified photographs throughout the internet. The adult males often show the greatest number of identification characteristics. To help distinguish the species of Thailand you should first look at the tail - we have put together a simple guide.

 

Stump-tailed macaque - Macaca arctoides

 

Stump Tailed Macaque 4

 

A distinctly differing look from the rest of the macaque species in Thailand the stump-tailed macaque’s distinguishing features are its long reddish brown coat as well as a pronounced red face and a very short stump for a tail that often cannot be seen.

In Thailand it can be found primarily in the western parts of the country including Kaeng Krachan National Park, Kui Buri National Park, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and Khao Sok National Park amongst others.

 

Assam macaque - Macaca assamensis

 

Assamese macaque  

The Assam or Assamese Macaque is not very common in Thailand, its distinguishing features are a longish grey/brown coat and a heavy medium sized tail as well as a tell tale parting of hair on its head.

In Thailand it can be found in the wild at Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, and Phu Khieo Widlife Sanctuary (especially close to the Phrom river crossing).

 

Crab-eating (AKA Long-tailed macaque) - Macaca fascicularis

 

PangSidaSept18 2796

 

Probably the most commonly seen species in Thailand due to its habituation of elevations and isolated forests where temples have been subsequently built as well as mangroves and beach areas which are near tourist locations. When partially habituated they can be very boisterous and troublesome to say the least. Their forest brethren are much more shy.

In Thailand they can be found throughout the country except the extreme north and are instantly recognizable from their long tail.

Rhesus macaque - Macaca mulatta

 

Rhesus macaque

 

The rarest of all macaques to locate in Thailand, this once prevalent northern species has suffered greatly from human expansion and the wild population is limited to observations in just 3 areas in Thailand, those being Huai Kha Khaeng, Phu Khieo and Thung Yai Narasuan as well as a handful of other locations for semi wild troops.

It is not a large animal and its pendulous mid length tail and direction of hair growth on its cheeks are characteristic. In the troop I observed the distinct two fold yellow to grey coloring of the adolescents as they mature to adults was striking (see photo above).

 

Northern pigtail macaque - Macaca leonina

 

Pig tailed macaque 2

 

The distinct looking males are a favorites amongst wildlife photographers, with their black caps, cheek ruff, blue eye markings and often in your face attitudes making them a fascinating subject. Their short thin often curled tail is their main characteristic marker.

Found in many locations throughout northern and central Thailand, south to Chumporn. Perhaps, they are the most common subjects of photographers in Khao Yai National Park as they tend to have sit by the road waiting for tourists to feed them - an act that sadly causes the death of many macaques in road accidents.

 

Southern pig-tailed macaque - Macaca nemestrina

 

Southern pig tailed macaque

 

Very similar to the Northern Pig-tailed macaque, indeed up until a few years ago the northern and southern pig-tailed macaques were classified as the same species (the southern then being believed to be a sub-species) but they are now recognized as seperate species. There are differences in the black crown patch being less pronounced, eye surround colouring and a generally warmer pelage colouring but these are hard to see in the field. In Thailand it can be found south of Surat Thani. This photograph was taken in Khao Luang National Park.

 

Paul Thompson

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onflipflops's Avatar
onflipflops replied the topic: #5082 3 months 2 days ago
Great post and photography!
Still need to see/ photograph a couple of these species myself.

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