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Pigtail macaque
Macaca nemestrina


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


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

The most serious threat to primate populations in Indonesia and Malaysia is the unsustainable practice of timber extraction. Habitat destruction and the subsequent degradation, either from commercial timber harvesting or conversion of land to agriculture poses a very serious threat to any arboreal primates or those that depend on primary forest, as do pigtail macaques (Rijksen & Meijaard 1999). In India, habitat destruction is also a problem. Slash and burn (swidden) agriculture, or jhum, by local people threatens forests in the area while monoculture tree plantations are replacing primary forest in much of the area, leading to a loss of usable habitat for pigtail macaques (Choudhury 2003). Small scale harvesting of forest products can have a severe effect on the quality of habitat in an area. Collection of firewood and selectively cutting trees for building materials as well as harvesting other forest products are steady pressures that lead to serious consequences for forest structure and composition (Srivastava et al. 2001). Pigtail macaques require the continued existence of large expanses of forest, but with the human population in their range growing quickly, forest clearing for agriculture is likely to continue and increase. Harvesting forest products will also increase leading to severe degradation and fragmentation of the forest and subsequent displacement of pigtail macaques (Choudhury 2003).

Potential Solutions

The establishment of forest reserves that are reliably safe from extractive practices are necessary. The convergence of thousands of families using forest products obviously has serious effects on intact forests and leads to widespread destruction. Governments of the range countries for pigtail macaques need to implement substantial rules enforced by forest rangers in the areas currently classified as protected as well as add more area to the protected forests. Rather than just blocking local people from the forests through guards, though, there needs to be serious educational programming for local communities to understand the cumulative effect of each family removing firewood and other forest products (Srivastava & Mohnot 2001; Srivastava et al. 2001). These seemingly harmless practices that remove only a bundle of sticks from the forest each day with small hand tools can have the same aggregate impacts as commercial logging operations over time (Srivastava et al. 2001).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

The pigtail macaque is killed for food by many tribes in northeastern India and has been hunted to near extirpation in some states (Choudhury 2003). Though there is no significant trade in pigtail macaques as pets, any young animal that can be captured is taken as a pet. They are also illegally captured for supply to zoos (Choudhury 2003).

They are also threatened because of their high demand for biomedical research, especially as models for diseases such as AIDS (Rowe 1996).

Potential Solutions

Changing the attitudes of local people in areas around and near pigtail macaque habitat will be necessary in order to stop the hunting of these animals. Conservation education and conservation action plans should be directed at and involve local people that live in and around forested areas as well as increasing awareness through media coverage could encourage local people to be aware of the conservation impact of their actions (Srivastava & Mohnot 2001). Furthermore, increasing the efficacy of primate protection both through game wardens and conservation officers in the forested regions could decrease the amount of illegal hunting in the area (Srivastava & Mohnot 2001).

Threat: Pollution

Pollution caused by opencast or strip coal mining is significant in the pigtail macaque's range in India (Srivastava & Mohnot 2001).

Potential Solutions

The Indian government can control the degrading effects of this type of mining and the direct impact to pigtail macaques by regulating more closely mining operations, especially those near reserves known to harbor pigtail macaques.





Content last modified: September 12, 2005

Written by Kristina Cawthon Lang. Reviewed by Dario Maestripieri.

Cite this page as:
Cawthon Lang KA. 2005 September 12. Primate Factsheets: Pigtail macaque (Macaca nemestrina) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 December 13.