Home > The Barbary macaque > Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Barbary macaque important? 

Barbary macaques help to keep the forest healthy by spreading seeds so that new trees and plants grow. They are also important because they are the only primate in North Africa and people come from many countries to see them, thus contributing to the Moroccan economy.

Why is this species only found in Morocco and Algeria?

Many years ago the macaques were found in other areas of North Africa but due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, and exploitation for the wildlife trade, they have disappeared (and are disappearing) from areas where they occurred in the past.

What are their main predators?

In the past a serous predator would have been the leopard.  Now their main predators are people, dogs , eagles and the dib (African wolf).

How many groups of Barbary macaques usually live in one area?

It depends on the type of habitat they live in.  If there is a big area like the Middle Atlas then there will be more groups.  In areas where there is only rocky shrub then there will be fewer groups.

Why are they endangered?

They are endangered because forest is cut down for timber and agriculture, and because wild infants are caught in areas such as the Middle and High Atlas to sell to people as pets.

What about the law?

BMAC collaborates with the Haut Commissariat and the Moroccan public to confiscate Barbary macaques openly on sale or being exploited as photo props.  We get reports from the Moroccan public which we pass on to the authorities which then confiscate the macaque if they can.  We need a detailed location for the animal.

Why are there macaques in Jmaa El Fnaa?

Macaques have been used for many years to entertain the Moroccan public.  However with the increase in both national and international tourism the number of macaques has increased from 2-3 individuals to ~50.  The possession of a Barbary macaque is illegal but the authorities argue that in Jmaa El Fnaa it is an illustration of Moroccan culture.


Are Barbary macaques monkeys or apes?

Though sometimes still referred to as the ‘Barbary ape’, Barbary macaques are monkeys. They have a vestigial tail – this means it is extremely short and gives rise to confusion over whether they are monkeys or apes.