This is the Lion-tailed Macaque. They are shy, fruit-eating primates. You can find them only in the rainforests of India’s western ghats.
But their existence faces a threat. The Lion-tailed macaque is an ‘endangered’ species
The Lion Tailed Macaques are named so not because of their manes but because of their tails which resembles a lion’s.
Like most macaques, they have unique cheek pouches to store food. They live in groups and avoid human interaction as much as possible.
According to the IUCN, there are only 2400 - 2500 Macaques across Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. They are reducing in number because of habitat destruction caused by tourism and encroachment, poaching and road kills.
Valparai in Tamil Nadu is one of the last remaining homes for the Lion Tailed macaque. It shares this turf along with elephants, Bisons, Bonnet Macaques, Nilgiris Tahr and others.
In a move to conserve the remaining population of these monkeys and their habitat, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) has taken up various initiatives along with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department.
The lion-tailed macaques prefer the upper canopies of evergreen rainforests to move around. The local administration has constructed aerial bridges at common macaque crossings so that they do not have to come down from the canopy to cross the road.
The macaques stay at the Puthuthottam tea estate and coffee plantations in Valparai before going back into the wild at night. The workers there also do their bit to protect this species. They help them cross the road, hold up ‘Go Slow’ signals for speeding vehicles, and warn tourists from feeding them.