Conservation in the wild
Barbary macaques live in the Atlas mountains of Morocco and Algeria
Monkeys and tourists
Feeding of wild Barbary macaques by tourists is bad for a Barbary macaque’s health, according to research. The scientists studied macaques at tourist sites in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco, where people regularly feed them with bread, pasta, crisps and chocolate. Compared to monkeys away from tourist sites that eat what they find naturally in the forest, the tourist fed animals were overweight, had coats in a poor condition and also harboured more parasites – all these things are linked to their bad diet. The researchers also found that feeding by tourists led the monkeys to be more aggressive to each other.
The scientists also found that when tourists get too close to the monkeys in Morocco, it makes them more aggressive and also stops them engaging in grooming an essential behaviour for making bonds and alliances. Worse still, when tourists try to interact or touch the wild monkeys, it makes them really stressed.
One major threat is the rise in the illegal pet trade. Barbary macaques are taken from their mothers in the wild and used in the tourist photo prop trade. If abroad, please do not have your picture taken with one!
What is being done?
The Moroccan Primate Conservation Foundation (MPC) and the Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation (BMAC), amongst other organisations, are working hard to help protect the species and educate the next generation about the importance of the endangered species.