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Japanese macaque
Macaca fuscata


CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: M. fuscata: LC (What is Red List?)
Key: LC = Least concern
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

Macaca fuscata
Photo: Marilyn Cole


Threat: Human Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

The Japanese macaque has arrived at somewhat of a crossroads in relation to its conservation and the threats to its survival. Since the Second World War, traditional threats to the species such as slash-and-burn agriculture, use of forest woods for construction and fuel, and hunting decreased significantly, mainly due to social and economic changes in Japan (Sprague 2002). In this regard, the outlook for conservation of the Japanese macaque looks significantly brighter. On the other hand, with such a shift from traditional threats, new conflicts with the species have emerged. The two most serious of these new threats are the replacement of natural forests with lumber plantations and the rise in crop-raiding by the Japanese macaque (Sprague 2002). The lumber plantations cannot be used as habitat by the monkeys and the rise in crop-raiding has resulted in the species being considered a nuisance. Behind wild boar and deer, the Japanese macaque is the third worst crop-raider in Japan (Sprague 2002). As a result, they have less appropriate habitat in which to live coupled with yearly culling of the species as a pest in excess of 10,000 individuals per annum (Watanabe & Muroyama 2005).

Apparently, the range of the species is expanding but whether or not the total number of Japanese macaques is expanding or contracting is unclear. The range expansion is attributed to behavioral changes within the Japanese macaque population in which they have lost their fear of humans and do not actively avoid people (Watanabe & Muroyama 2005). This lack of fear has resulted in a Japanese macaque presence in not only rural and agricultural areas, but an increasing presence in urban areas. In one extreme case, a female was living in central Tokyo for several months (Fukuda 2004).

In 1993, part of Yakushima island, the habitat of M. f. yakui, was designated a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO which has proven to have had mixed results for conservation at that locale (Hill & Maruhashi 1996/1997). The designation, while raising awareness of a need for conservation, has brought additional tourists to the threatened habitat and has not as of yet proven adequate for protection of the Japanese macaques of Yakushima island (Hill & Maruhashi 1996/1997).





Content last modified: April 26, 2007

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Sarah Turner.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2007 April 26. Primate Factsheets: Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 October 18.