The Tibetan macaque has a multimale-multifemale social system in which females remain in their natal group, but males disperse shortly after adolescence (at about eight years old) (5) (6). Macaque societies are hierarchical, with higher-ranking individuals getting better access to the resources, namely food and sexually-receptive females. As such, an alpha male (the highest-ranking male) dominates the group, and is typically fairly young (eight to nine years old) and strong. With age, the male’s rank decreases, and there will always be challenges by others for the dominant position. Studies of Tibetan macaques at Emei Shan and Huang Shan, China, found the average tenure for an alpha male only lasted about one year. When troop size becomes quite large (in the 40 to 50 range) and competition grows over increasingly stretched resources, some individuals (males, females and juveniles) split from the main group to form a new, smaller group, known as ‘fissioning’, and move on to a different home range. Usually, it is the lowest-ranking individuals that will split from the main group (5).
Females first breed at around five years of age (5). A single offspring is produced after a gestation period of 6 months, with most infants being born in January and February (5) (6). Young nurse for a year, although they may continue to do so longer if the female does not give birth again the following year. Males of the group may also be involved in ‘alloparenting’ care (5).
This diurnal species spends most of its time on the ground, where it forages for leaves, fruit, grass and, to a lesser extent, flowers, seeds, roots and insects (5) (7). When available, bamboo shoots, fruits and leaves are particularly favoured (5) (8).