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Sunday March 18, 2007

Rare monkey found in northern peninsula


KUALA LUMPUR: If you are at the north of the peninsula and come across a big monkey with a stump tail and red face, be sure to appreciate the moment. 

This is because you are probably one of the lucky ones to actually see a member of the threatened species in the primate family known as the Stump-Tailed Macaque or locally known as Berok Kentoi

World Wildlife Fund-Malaysia executive director Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma said he had read reports that their numbers were dwindling and so, those visiting the northern states especially Perlis should savour the moment if they came across the unique primate species. 

Unique species: The Stump-Tailed Macaque, or locally known as Berok Kentoi, is a threatened species of the primate family.
Dr Dionysius first saw the monkeys at the Perlis state park in 1992.  

Not seen in Malaysia for 15 years prior to this, they were thought to be extinct. 

He said two other macaque species – the Long-tailed and Pig-tailed – were seen throughout the country.  

He said the stump-tailed macaques could be sighted in Asia all the way to India, China, Myanmar, Thailand and the northern parts of peninsular Malaysia, which is supposed to be their southern-most limit. 

“What we have not confirmed is whether these macaques are residing in the state park permanently or moving back and forth across the Malaysia-Thai border, as the Thaleban national park in the neighbouring country is connected to the Perlis state park. 

“I personally suspect that they move to and fro depending on the availability of food. These primates are known to raid crops in Perlis,” he said recently. 

Dr Dionysius said a detailed study needed to be conducted to determine their seasonal movements, population status in Thaleban national park and Perlis state park. 

Zoo Negara’s assistant director Dr S. Vellayan said there were six stump-tailed macaques in Zoo Negara, 13 in Taiping Zoo, eight in Malacca Zoo and five at the Perlis snake farm. 

He said the population in captivity in Malaysia was the largest in the world, adding that it was difficult to breed this species as the males were dominant and reproduction was not as rapid as the Long-Tailed Macaque. 

“Their distinctive characteristic shows up when they get up and walk, as they look like orang pendek (dwarfs) due to their body structure that is compact, and they run on all fours.”  

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