More trees in Sri Lanka help beleaguered macaques made famous by ‘Monkey Kingdom’ film


The toque macaques of Sri Lanka were made world famous by the Disney documentary feature ‘Monkey World’, which was shot at the historic capital city of Polonnaruwa.

Now they are in trouble—at least, they were. But the government is poised to help preserve a species—Latin name Macaca sinica—that is found only on this Indian Ocean island.

The problem is that their natural environment, Sri Lanka’s ancient forests, has been steadily encroached upon over many years by the country’s own burgeoning population.


The bioGgraphic website reports that “the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the species, which lives only on the island nation of Sri Lanka, Endangered”.

Wolfgang Dittus, a scientist from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, has worked for decades to mobilize local leaders in business, policy, and education to support primate conservation on the island.

And he and his local collaborators made concrete progress: In 2010, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a mandate for the country to increase its forest cover from 23 percent to 36 percent.


Meanwhile, the Treehugger website reports that while “dramatic loss of forest has led to tough times for these charismatic and highly social primates”, there is yet hope.

“With new trees and plans in place to help the locals, both human and otherwise, the future of Sri Lanka’s beautiful macaques is looking a little bit more hopeful.

“And as unwittingly pretty as the scene above may be, it’s heartening to think that someday, monkeys on the island nation will no longer need to rummage through smouldering fires to fill their empty stomachs”.

Read more here.

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