It’s International Macaque Week! Established by Barbary Macaque Education and Awareness (BMAC) as International Macaque Day, which first took place in March 2016, it was so popular that they soon decided to make a week of it every May. International Days (and weeks!) are, according to the United Nations, opportunities to “educate the general public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.”
So who are macaques, and why should we celebrate them?
Like us, macaques are primates. More specifically, they are monkeys… and even more specifically, they are a group of monkey species who are closely related to one another and who share certain characteristics. There are 24 recognized species of macaque living today, and all species but one are native to one or more Asian countries.
Macaques are clever, charismatic beings. As human populations continue to expand, many have learned how to survive in human-dominated landscapes, but doing so has caused them to be labeled - and treated - by some people as “pests.” Normally, they are simply trying to feed themselves and live their lives, but these attempts can interfere with human livelihoods, leading to disaster for both humans and macaques.
Sadly, according to the IUCN Red List, about 80% of macaque species are currently threatened with extinction. Many are Endangered or Critically Endangered, meaning that populations and trends have been scientifically assessed and the species is found to be facing a very or extremely high risk of extinction. They continue to be persecuted in many areas, whether killed as “pests”; captured to be kept as pets, performers or used to create social media content; or rounded up for use as subjects of research or testing.
The Macaque Coalition is made up of organizations from across Asia and around the world who have an interest in protecting macaques, as individuals and as species, from the numerous harms that they face so often, and who promote coexistence between people and macaques. Collectively, we work on a broad array of issues that affect macaques. Over the coming week, we’re going to feature and celebrate a handful of macaque species on our social media channels, and tell you what we think is wonderful about each of them! Please be sure to follow our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter channels for more.
And let's #celebratemacaques every day!