Toque Macaque (Macaca sinica) is a commonly found monkey endemic to Sri Lanka. These primates are easily recognized by their golden brown coat, muscular cheek pouches, large ears, long tail and the small clump of hair placed in middle of the head that looks similar to a trendy hair cut. The males are larger in size and have tan faces while the female faces have shades of pink.
Toque Macaques are listed as endangered according to the IUCN Red List. There are three recognized subspecies namely the Macaca sinica sinica found in the dry zone, Macaca sinica aurifrons found in the wet zone, Macaca sinica opisthomelas found in the hill country. They are widely spread around the country where their natural habitation is the forests.
The Toque monkeys live in groups that consist of an average of 20 to 25 monkeys consisting largely of females. They spend most of their time on tree tops and are very cautious of predators when moving on the ground. These troops use warning calls when they sense danger and chatter loudly when at play.
They are omnivorous and consume vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, reptiles and birds, storing a part of the food in their cheek pouch to be eaten later, they are known to raid farm and fruit harvests and are most often seen hanging around temples, thus being fondly called ’temple monkeys’. The lifespan of the Toque Macaque in the wild is around 35 years.
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