Toque macaque (Macaca sinica)

French: Macaque Couronné, Macaque Toque
Spanish: Macaca De Sri Lanka
GenusMacaca (1)
SizeHead-body length: 43 - 53 cm (2)
Tail length: 47 - 62 cm (2)
Female weight: 2.3 – 4.3 kg (3)
Male weight: 4.1 – 8.4 kg (3)

The toque macaque (Macaca sinica) is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1), and is listed under Appendix II of CITES (4). The lowland wetzone toque macaque (subspecies Macaca sinica aurifrons), highland toque macaque (subspecies Macaca sinica opisthomelas) and dryzone toque macaque (subspecies Macaca sinica sinica) are all classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The toque macaque is a stocky monkey, characterised by an unusual whorl of hair on top of the head that grows from the central crown (2). The name toque macaque refers to this ‘cap’ of hair; toques are brimless hats. The coat is reddish or yellowish brown in colour and the underparts are paler (2). All individuals have cheek pouches, used to carry food whilst foraging (5), short, stout limbs and long tails (6). The skin on the face is naked; the ears, border of the eyelids and lower lip are pigmented black, with the remainder of the face pinkish in males, reddish in females (3). Males tend to be larger in size than females (2).

This macaque is restricted to Sri Lanka (1).

Occurs in gallery and semi-deciduous forests, scrub and by the edges of water courses, from lowlands to 1,500 metres elevation (2) (3).

The toque macaque is active during the day and is equally at home in the trees and on the ground (2). It feeds on a wide range of fruit, leaves, crops and insects (2), and food is stuffed into the cheek pouches with both hands to be chewed later (6).

Macaques live in large groups of eight – 43 (average 20 – 25) with several adult males and females (3). Females tend to remain in the group they were born into, but males tend to disperse into new groups when they reach maturity (2) (5). Within groups, there is a strict dominance hierarchy; lower ranking individuals are ousted from good foraging areas and are less likely to survive to reproductive age than high-ranking individuals (5).

Breeding tends to take place in autumn, and females give birth to a single offspring after a gestation period of around five months (5) (2). The newborn young has a soft black natal coat in the first two months of life (2).

The main threat affecting this species is habitat loss and damage as a result of wood extraction (1). In some areas they are caught for the local pet trade (6).

The toque macaque is not protected by Sri Lankan law. Conservation education programmes are required to encourage the protection of the species (6).

For further information on the torque macaque see:


Authenticated (31/10/2005) by Matt Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
  2. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Richardson, M. (2005) Pers. comm.
  4. CITES (September, 2008)
  5. The Primata (March, 2004)
  6. International Primate Protection League (March, 2004)