The Magot: Morocco’s Endangered Monkey

  • Magot monkey | Creative Commons

“If nothing is done, this species will disappear in 10 years,” warns a poster on the window of an old car. Ahmed Harrad travels to the north of Morocco to convince the population to protect the magot monkey.

The only macaque species living outside of Asia, the barbary macaque, which can weigh 15 to 20 pounds, was once widespread in North Africa.

But, despite missing since the 1900s, there have been sightings in Morocco’s mountainous areas, as well as in Algeria, especially in the Kabylia mountains. Around 230 barbary macaques also live in Gibraltar, where they are a famous tourist attraction.

In a 2016 proposal of the United Kingdom and the European Union, the species was listed in Annex I of the Convention on international Trade of Endangered Species so that it could be considered “protected”. This “will allow Morocco and other countries to unite their efforts to combat illegal trade”, Zouhair Ahmaouch explains from the Office of the High Commissioner for the country’s waters and forests.

In fact, in the face of danger, Morocco has launched a backup plan and hopes that a “very active” civil society will protect the species, says Violeta Barrios of the Mediterranean IUCN.

“We are working on two axes: surveillance, monitoring and census of this species, as well as heightening awareness of local people so that they become active supporters”, explains Mr Harrad, President of the Association for Barbary Macaque Awareness & Conservation (BMAC), one of the most committed in defending the Moroccan monkey.