Monkeys with ‘cheek pouches’ : Bonnet Macaque
Monkey with Cheek Pouches (Bonnet Macaque)
A group of Bonnet Macaques (on the side of Nilgiri Mountain Train)
Above photos were clicked inadvertently during our Nilgiri Mountain train journey from Mettupalayam to Ooty (Udagamandalam). We were about to delete these pics, but unique cheek pouches of these monkeys / macaque drew our attention and we began to know more about them. Later on we recognized them as a species of monkey / macaque found at certain locations in the southern states of India and known as ‘ Bonnet Macaque’.
Salient features of Bonnet Macaque:
· They have unique inflated cheek portion or cheek pouches which are pockets on both sides of the head of some mammal between the jaw and the cheek.
· Cheek pouches are useful for rapid collection of food. Monkeys carry their food in these cheek pouches to shelter or safer location and consume it later on as per convenient.
· They feed mainly on fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers and cereals.
· They are diurnal, arboreal and terrestrial. Basically a species of macaque endemic to Southern India.
· They are very social animals and live in small to large groups. They communicate in a different range of facial expression.
· Its scientific name is ‘Macaca Radiata’ and belongs to ‘Cercopithecidae’ family.
· As per Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’- variation occurs randomly among members of a species. The development of ‘check pouches’ in these macaques may be the result of their adaption to food availability in the particular region. Bonnet Macaque may be the diversification of monkeys in due course of time because of change in environmental conditions. Such adaption in physical forms (i.e. development of cheek pouches) of monkey seems necessary for survival. However, they might have developed from common ancestor.
# As per International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conservation status, Bonnet Macaque are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ (VU).
# Due to habitat loss, the number of Bonnet Macaque is decreasing gradually. They need space to survive which we should provide to have healthy environment & ecosystem.