The Barbary macaque is a species indigenous to North Africa, including Morocco. It is the only African primate (non-human) found north of the Sahara Desert. It favours habitats in the Atlas and Rif mountains of Morocco (i.e. cedar and oak forests).
It is an endangered species and it is thought that there are only around 8000 animals left in the wild. Their numbers have dwindled mostly due to the illegal pet trade and losing their habitat through deforestation and human presence.
Farmers have typically viewed the macaque as a pest but, with education, the local communities are learning to respect the animals. A conservation group in Morocco’s Rif mountain region is making inroads to raise awareness about the macaques whilst simultaneously developing programmes which benefit local people and their domestic animals. The overall goal of this project is to safeguard the future of the Barbary macaque, its habitats, and the livelihoods of the local communities. Please visit the ‘BMAC’ website for more information.
We recently visited a special centre in the UK that breeds macaques in captivity and which is committed to protecting the species. Since its opening 9 years ago, it has introduced (along with its affiliate centres in Europe) around 600 macaques in to the wild in Morocco’s Atlas mountains. In the UK there are currently 140 macaques living uncaged on 60 acres of wooded parkland. We were fortunate enough to see 5 recently-born macaques, May/June is birth season. The centre also supports research into the biology and social behaviour of the macaques.
If you’re driving with us across the Atlas mountains, i.e. just south of Fes, you may be fortunate enough to see some of the macaques in the cedar forests near Ifrane.
Please contact us for any information.