Sunda pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina)

Also known as: pigtail macaque, Southern pig-tailed macaque
French: Macaque À Queue De Cochon
Spanish: Macaca Cola De Cerdo
GenusMacaca (1)
SizeMale head-and-body length: 50 – 78 cm (2)
Female head-and-body length: 45 – 55 cm (2)
Male tail length: 16 – 24 cm (2)
Female tail length: 13 – 25 cm (2)
Male weight: 10.7 – 14.5 kg (2)
Female weight: 6 – 8 kg (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

The Sunda pig-tailed macaque is a rare primate of the Southeast Asia. It is characterised by its short tail that is carried half-erect and somewhat resembles a pig’s, hence its common name (3). Macaques are medium to large sized monkeys with stout bodies. This species has a brown coat with a lighter underside and its legs are long and strong. The muzzle is long and lacks hair (3) though males have mane-like hairs surrounding the face, giving them a majestic appearance (4). When females are receptive to mating they develop large swellings on the rump. Adult females can also be identified because they are around half the size of males (4).

This species is found in Brunei, Indonesia (Bangka, Kalimantan Borneo, and Sumatra), Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah Borneo, plus the Malay peninsula), and southern Thailand, with introduced populations on Singapore and in the Natuna Islands (2).

Inhabits lowland primary and secondary forest, as well as coastal, swamp and montane forest (2).

The Sunda pig-tailed macaque spends more time on the forest floor and in the open than other macaques, where it forages for leaves, buds, shoots, insects and small animals (5). It has cheek pouches to carry food while it forages, and often returns to the safety of the trees to feed (5). This macaque is a social primate and lives in group sizes of 5 – 40 (average 15 – 22) individuals (2), though the group splits into smaller units to forage. In the group males and females live together. Females remain in their natal group, though males will disperse shortly before they reach sexual maturity (5).

This species faces many threats. Destruction of forests by felling, encroachment, slash and burn cultivation of the hill tribes and monoculture are all major threats to the Sunda pig-tailed macaque’s habitat (1). The rate of forest destruction is alarming, and is not only reducing this primate’s habitat, but also fragmenting it. The macaque's taste for agricultural crops has also deemed it a pest, and it is therefore frequently shot on sight (2). Furthermore, Sunda pig-tailed macaques are very popular for use in laboratories, being almost ideally suited for both psychological studies and HIV (AIDS virus) research (2).

The Sunda pig-tailed macaque is known to occur in 7 protected areas and is found in captivity in 26 zoos or institutions worldwide (2).

Authenticated (19/06/2006) by Matthew Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2009)