Tailless creature under the red mask

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If you come across some small monkey with a red face and a short tail in the wild of Southeast Asia and China, it is probably the stump-tailed macaque. They are larger than other monkeys and usually walk on four legs on the ground of tropical rainforests, as they are not good at climbing trees.

A well-defined social structure and etiquette

Stump-tailed macaques have a social structure similar to other macaques, with females being rigid and for genetic contribution, while males establish dominance hierarchies based on their fighting ability. With hierarchy, there followed by etiquette among individuals of different ranks, particularly to show respect for high-ranking males.

High-ranking males have priority in terms of survival and reproduction. When lower-ranking stump-tailed macaques pass by or sit next to higher-ranking stump-tailed macaques, they usually bow first to show their respect. Showing the buttocks, hugging, and sexless back crawls are common etiquette.

Solving problem peacefully

Etiquette and hierarchy provide stump-tailed macaques with a unique set of reconciliation strategies, allowing them to avoid violent confrontations while maintaining a high level of harmony within their group. After adult males migrated to another group and complete the fight (for hierarchy status), they will engage in ritualized reconciliation behaviours. Lower-ranking macaques will show their buttocks to their superiors, and superiors may hug and kiss the macaques, which is the symbol of submission.

Changing groups to improve reproduction

In the stump-tailed macaque family, there is no pairing relationship. Female macaques frequently mate with multiple male macaques to ensure they have offspring. high-ranking male macaques have priority on mating with their population’s adult females. Male macaques will leave the parent group when they reach adulthood (sexual maturity) and join the adjacent group. This phenomenon of group exchange prevents inbreeding and promotes gene exchange.

Harmonious but unstable

Macaques are not aggressive in nature. Similar to other animals, they do not respond erratically friendly to human behaviour. Stump-tailed macaques will pose for photographs and be fed by tourists in some nature reserves. However, there have been numerous reports of tourists being attacked by macaques.

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Difficulty in surviving

Stump-tailed macaques face difficult living conditions. Their natural habitats are being destroyed. They are not only losing their living space but also being the target for medicine and food. According to the IUCN Red List, the stump-tailed macaque is a vulnerable species. Improved management of nature reserves, market management, and hunting bans will enhance their chances of survival.

Written by Zhang Yuming (INTI International University)