The Barbary macaque Macaca sylvanus is the only macaque in Africa. The species is categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is listed in CITES Appendix II. This macaque has a relict distribution in Morocco and Algeria. Recent studies have indicated a dramatic decline of Barbary macaque populations in the Middle Atlas and Rif Mountains in Morocco but there is limited available information on its distribution in the Central High Atlas. We therefore conducted interviews with local officials and inhabitants, and carried out field surveys in 12 sites from February 2004 to December 2008. We found Barbary macaques in relatively small and fragmented habitats in 10 of the 12 sites. A total of 35 groups were sighted and 644 individuals counted. Mean group size was 21 (range 6-42). In all surveyed sites habitat destruction and pressure from livestock were apparent. The interviews indicated that the macaques are often found in the proximity of agricultural land, and that there is evidence of illegal capture in the Bas Oued El Abid and Haut Oued El Abid areas. To protect this species we recommend establishment of protected areas specifically for the Barbary macaque, increased surveillance by forest guards, enforcement of the law against capture of the species, and education of the local people.
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