Macaques are the most widely distributed primates on earth other than humans, ranging from Japan to the Indian subcontinent, North Africa and Southern Europe.
All 23 species have a very intricate social structure and hierarchy, and macaque social groups are arranged around dominant, matriarchal females. Macaques form strong family bonds and many individuals maintain these bonds throughout their lives, and the relationships between individuals endure from one encounter to another.
Living in a social group and working cooperatively involves knowing what another individual wants, being able to read body movements and understand each other through shared communication networks.
Developing such complex societies provides macaques with increased access to food through information sharing between individuals, and cooperative defence against non-group members.
Although the benefits of efficient predator detection and increased food acquisition may be diluted by the costs of having to share food and share reproductive opportunities. Furthermore, all individuals within macaque social groups are not equal; as dominant individuals monopolize a group’s resources more effectively, group living becomes less beneficial for subordinates.
Therefore, if social behaviour is to be maintained in a macaque population, even subordinate individuals must gain more from being social than from leaving the group and trying to survive and reproduce on their own.
One of the ultimate benefits that members of a macaque group gain from being social is that they are more likely to live longer if they maintain strong social ties with other members within their group.
A study of over 900 female rhesus macaques spanning a period of 21 years, has shown that each extra female relative within a social group, reduces a prime-aged female macaque's chances of dying in one year by 2.3% compared with prime-aged females with fewer relatives.
Macaques spend a lot of time interacting with one another. Being groomed helps rid them of parasites, while being aggressive helps establish their place in the social order. Each macaque would like to get a lot of grooming and give a lot of aggression, without spending much energy grooming others and without being the target of aggression. Prime aged females with lots of good social ties with their relatives can achieve these conditions better than those with fewer relatives and social interactions, and thus enhance their survivability.
Similar results have also been demonstrated in male bottlenose dolphins, female rats, and female baboons.
This demonstrating that having and maintaining strong social ties and networks actually helps increase an individual macaque survival prospect.
Macaques really are amazing animals
How you can help
Macaques used in entertainment;
Many thousands of macaques are used in circuses, forced through fear and punishment into performing meaningless tricks for entertainment. Many more are housed in poor quality conditions within zoos or kept as pets in people’s homes. These individuals have been taken away from their mothers at a very young age and often spend extensive amounts of time chained and in social isolation. Macaques are highly social animals with complex behavioural, psychological, and physiological needs and keeping them as pets, chaining them, housing them in barren cages, and using them in circuses causes them a significant amount of stress and suffering.
Click here for more details on how you can help macaques ;
Macaques in research;
Because of their anatomical and physiological closeness to humans, the relative ease at which they can be maintained and bred in captivity, and the available supply from the wild, rhesus macaques have long been the nonhuman primate of choice on which to conduct research on human and animal health-related topics. Much of this research is invasive and is likely to cause a significant amount of pain and suffering to the individuals involved.
For more details on animal free research see;
European Coalition to End Animal Experiments
Animal Free Research
Many species of macaques are under threat due to habitat loss and degradation, as well as hunting for the bushmeat trade, the pet trade and to supply animals to research facilities. The Black crested macaque and Pagai Island Macaque are critically Endangered and at the most severe risk of going extinct. But many other species are listed as endangered and vulnerable, including the Northern Pig-Tailed macaque found in Vietnam.
For more details on how you can help macaques in the wild see;
Barbary Macaque Conservation
If you love Macaques, please visit some of the sites above to help those suffering for human entertainment and testing