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Bonnet Macaque

Bonnet Macaque

Bonnet Macaque

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Cercopithecidae

Scientific Name: Macaca radiata

IUCN Red List status: Least concern

Protected by the following WLT project/s

Indian Elephant Corridors Appeal

Species Range (IUCN)

World map


Bonnet Macaques are grey-brown Old World monkeys with wrinkly humanoid faces, large ears and a comical mop of centre-parted hair on their heads. There are two distinct subspecies: dark-bellied bonnet macaques and pale-bellied bonnet macaques. 


Like other macaques, Bonnet Macaques are very sociable and have an interesting array of gestures and facial expressions they use to communicate. These can be used to establish dominance in challenge scenarios, with certain expressions (bared-teeth) and behaviours (extending an arm or hand to the dominant individual for them to mock-bite) used by low-ranking macaques to submit to the high-ranking individuals. They also participate in social grooming, and unlike most other primate species, grooming is not a one-way social behaviour performed by subordinates to dominant individuals. Social grooming calms tensions and strengthens social bonds.

The social groups consist of many inter-related females and unrelated males, as females remain in their natal groups but males disperse to join other troops, which increases genetic diversity. They have a polygynandrous mating system, which means both males and females have multiple partners. Unlike many mammal mating systems, dominant males tolerate the sexual activity of young males with young or subordinate females. Sexual activity occurs throughout the year but the mating season peaks from September to October so the birthing season happens between February and April. 

Baby bonnet macaque
At one year old, young Bonnet Macaques are able to fend for themselves. © Rohit Varma


Troops keep a home range which averages around 120 acres (50 hectares) for the core area. They are both arboreal and terrestrial, and can be found in many different forest types. Many populations live near human settlements and have become dependent on food raided from houses, markets and waste, as well as food offerings left inside temples. They are omnivorous, and populations living in forests feed on fruit, foliage, insects, lizards and occasionally birds’ eggs. They often co-exist with Grey Langurs without competition or aggression.

Threats and Conservation

Bonnet macaques are listed as Least Concern by IUCN and their main threat is thought to be due to human-animal conflict in agricultural and urban areas. They are locally hunted and there is active local trade in live macaques for research and road shows. 

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