A Lion-tailed Macaque By The Roadside, Anamalai Hills

by P Jeganathan
Ramki Sreenivasan

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

These macaques can benefit from ecologically informed and sensitive actions. It is essential to safeguard their habitat from further deterioration and prevent feeding of macaques by tourists. Enabling canopy connectivity of native forest trees above roads will enable their movement.

How do you feel when you see this photo? Don’t you think that this is one of the ugliest and saddest sights to witness? The lion-tailed macaque Macaca silenus is an endangered and endemic macaque found only in the tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats. Instead of living freely in the canopy of the rainforest, here is a male by a roadside, looking for food.

This individual has been forced into looking for food in passing vehicles. The habitat of the lion-tailed macaques is now fragmented due to past conversion of the tropical rainforests into cash crops of tea, coffee and cardamom. Fragmentation followed by degradation of small rainforest fragments in which they are now isolated are the reasons for their present state. This male is part of troop of lion-tailed macaques in the Anamalai hills that is now frequently compelled to come down from the trees to cross the roads and look for food along the roadside. With an ill-planned surge in tourism, ignorant and irresponsible tourists often feed the macaques thinking they are doing a favour. This aggravates the problems for the macaques. Feeding can transmit human diseases plus makes them vulnerable to roadkill by speeding vehicles. Road widening has disrupted tree canopy further, increasing roadkill risk further.

These macaques can benefit from ecologically informed and sensitive actions. It is essential to safeguard their habitat from further deterioration and prevent feeding of macaques by tourists. Enabling canopy connectivity of native forest trees above roads will enable their movement. In other places, specially made rope bridges can help bridge the gaps. Restoring their degraded habitat by planting native tree species of the mid-elevation tropical rainforest typical to that region, creating corridors between fragmented forest patches, and preventing and controlling the illicit woodcutting are some of the long-term solutions that can help conserve this remarkable and endangered species.

About the author

P Jeganathan
P Jeganathan works with NCF in Valparai, Anamalai Hills, mainly on their conservation education program. He also does research and conservation on Jerdon’s Courser, supported by BNHS-India, Darwin Initiative, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, U.K.


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