The white-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys) is found only in Medog County in southeastern Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh state of India.
The white-cheeked macaque lives in forested habitats ranging from rainforests to primary and secondary evergreen forests and mixed deciduous and coniferous forests.
White whiskers radiating from the cheeks and chin give this new monkey its common name. Their whiskers grow when the monkeys reach adulthood, and their facial skin darkens.
When barnacle macaques are adults, their faces, and even their ears, are covered in dense, hairy jungle.
Only the brown muzzle and the pink eyelids escape this hairy encroachment. Then, as a finishing touch, nature painted a thin strip of dark skin that started at the outer corner of the monkey’s eye or upper cheek and extended to each ear.
As with other macaques, the coloring of their pelage (coat) varies. Shades of light to dark brown and dark chocolate cover their powerful bodies.
In most individuals, the color of the fur on their beautifully ruffled belly (underside) is lighter than the uniform fur that covers their back (back).
The short, hairless tail of the white-cheeked macaque demands no attention. Instead, a thick, shaggy ruff is worn around the neck like a scarf and is a distinctive feature of the species.
The genital distinction between the white-cheeked macaque (white testicles) and its similar cousin (Assam Macaque) helped convince wildlife researchers that they were looking at a new species. Fortunately, caution prevailed in giving these primates their common name, white-cheeked macaques.
White-Cheeked Macaque Facts
The species was first discovered and described by Chinese primatologistsPeng-Fei Fan, Cheng Li, and Chao Zhao in the American Journal of Primatology in 2015.
Barnacle macaques live in multi-male and multi-female groups (known in the primate world as “squads“), consisting of a pair of breeding adults and their young.
Adult white-cheeked macaques emit high-pitched alarm calls that cover a distance of 1 to 2 km. Monkeys make these urgent calls when they are afraid of human intruders.
Mutual grooming sessions seem essential to white-cheeked macaques’ days. They are necessary for establishing family bonds between them.
As herbivores, white-cheeked macaques disperse the seeds of the plants they eat through their droppings, helping to regenerate new growth in their forest habitat.