Booted macaque (Macaca ochreata)

Spanish: Macaca Crestada De Sulawesi
GenusMacaca (1)
SizeAverage male weight: 10 kg (2)
Average female weight: 6 kg (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3). Subspecies: Macaca ochreata brunnescens (muna-buton macaque) and M. o. ochreata (booted macaque) are also classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The macaques are heavily built, old-world monkeys, characterised by strong limbs of equal length and moderately long snouts (4) (5) (6). The island of Sulawesi in Indonesia is home to a unique radiation of macaques, with between four to seven described species (depending on the accepted taxonomic status) occurring in an area that represents just one percent of the total range of all macaque species (6). One of these endemics is the booted macaque, a species comprising two geographically separated subspecies, one of which, the Buton macaque (Macaca ochreata brunnescens), is sometimes treated as a separate species, Macaca brunnescens (1) (4) (6). However, many researchers consider the differences between the two subspecies to be too slight to warrant their separation (1) (6). Indeed, the two booted macaque subspecies are very similar in appearance, and can be distinguished from other Sulawesi species by having blackish torsos that contrast with characteristic grey limbs (2) (6) (7). The subtle differences that distinguish M. o. brunnescens from M. o. ochreata are largely limited to the former’s shorter, browner pelage and shorter face (6). In common with all Sulawesi macaques, both subspecies have very short tails, and adult males are significantly larger than adult females (2) (6).

Macaca ochreata ochreata inhabits the whole of the southeastern peninsula of Sulawesi, Indonesia, while M. o. brunnescens is only found on the adjacent islands of Muna and Buton (1) (6).

The booted macaque is found in rainforest up to 800 metres above sea level (1).

The booted macaque is considered to be semi-terrestrial, with populations in areas of continuous forest tending to be largely arboreal, while those in more degraded open habitat spend considerable time foraging and travelling along the ground (2) (6). Like the other Sulawesi macaques, fruit is an important source of food for the booted macaque, but this resourceful species will also eat a variety of other food items including leaves, flower stalks, insects and other invertebrates (1) (2) (6). In addition, the booted macaque is partial to raiding cultivated crops for fruit, vegetables and maize (1) (6). Booted macaque troops are usually comprised of several sexually mature adults of both sexes, along with their young. While the female members of the troop tend to remain with the troop they are born into, upon reaching sexual maturity, males are forced to emigrate to a new social group (2).

Habitat loss presents the greatest threat to the booted macaque, with the growth of the local human population and the expansion of agricultural land contributing to the unrelenting destruction of Sulawesi’s rainforest. As the amount of natural habitat diminishes, some populations of the booted macaque have become increasingly dependent on crops, resulting in conflict with local farmers who see this species as an agricultural pest (1) (6).

The booted macaque occurs in several protected areas, both on Sulawesi and on the adjacent island of Buton (1). Owing to the dearth of information currently available, the main conservation priority is to carry out further research which will aid in the development of an appropriate conservation strategy for this species (6).

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  1. IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
  2. Schillaci, M.A. and Stallmann, R. (2005) Ontogeny and sexual dimorphism in a population of booted macaques (Macaca ochreata). Journal of Zoology, 267: 19-29.
  3. CITES (October, 2008)
  4. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  5. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Priston, N.E.C. (2005) Crop-Raiding by Macaca ochreata brunnescens in Sulawesi: Reality, Perceptions and Outcomes for Conservation, PhD thesis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge.
  7. Bynum, E. L., Bynum, D.Z. and Supriatna, J. (1997) Confirmation and location of the hybrid zone between wild populations of Macaca tonkeana and Macaca hecki in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. American Journal of Primatology, 43: 181-209.