Barbary macaques in Gibraltar
The Barbary macaque population in Gibraltar is the only one in the European continent, and, unlike that of North Africa, it is thriving. At present, some 300 animals in five troops occupy the area of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, though occasional forays into the town may result in damage to personal property. Three female Barbary macaques can also be seen at the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park in the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. As they are a tailless species, they are also known locally as Barbary apes or rock apes, despite being monkeys (Macaca sylvanus). The local people simply refer to them as monos (English: monkeys) when conversing in Spanish or Llanito (the local vernacular).
All Gibraltar Barbary macaques are descended from North African populations of Barbary macaques. DNA evidence has established beyond doubt the present population is of relatively recent Algerian and Moroccan origin. No traces were found of a third source for their DNA, namely of any now-extinct ancient Iberian population. An earlier theory, now disproven by the DNA evidence, was that the original Gibraltar macaques were a remnant of populations that had spread throughout Southern Europe during the Pliocene, up to 5.5 million years ago. The Macaca sylvanus species is listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List and is declining. About 75% of the total population is found in the Middle Atlas mountains.
During the Pleistocene, this species inhabited the Mediterranean coasts and Europe, reaching as far north as Germany and the British Isles. The species decreased with the arrival of the Ice Age, to extinction in the Iberian Peninsula 30,000 years ago. The skull of a Barbary macaque was discovered during excavation in the 1970s at the pre-Christian Navan Fort in County Armagh, Ireland. Carbon dating tests suggest it died there in the third century BC.
The macaque population had been present on the Rock of Gibraltar long before Gibraltar was captured by the British in 1704. The original introduction of the macaques was most likely orchestrated by the Moors (who occupied southern Iberia, including Spain and Portugal, between 711 and 1492), who kept them as pets. In his work Historia de la Muy Noble y Más Leal Ciudad de Gibraltar (History of the Very Noble and Most Loyal City of Gibraltar), written between 1605 and 1610, Alonso Hernández del Portillo, the first chronicler of Gibraltar, wrote:
"But now let us speak of other and living producers which in spite of the asperity of the rock still maintain themselves in the mountain, there are monkeys, who may be called the true owners, with possession from time immemorial, always tenacious of the dominion, living for the most part on the eastern side in high and inaccessible chasms."
In his History of Gibraltar (1782), Ignacio López de Ayala, a Spanish historian like Portillo, wrote of the monkeys:
There are four main dimensions of behavior exhibited by the Barbary Macaques and they are: friendliness, excitability, confidence, and opportunism. Each of these behaviors is observed when the Macaques interact with each other. Research has shown that the Barbary Macaques will both show excitability and friendliness when interacting with each other. The social rank of the Barbary Macaques is also determined by these behaviors. Confidence is shown in higher levels of the dominant Macaques of the social groups than others. Research has also shown that opportunism also relates to the social rank of Barbary Macaques. The Macaques will wait until the perfect opportune moment to take leadership among their groups.
Grooming is also important to the behavior of Barbary Macaques. It has been shown that grooming is an essential part in the social groups of Barbary Macaques. Recent studies have found that after the grooming of Macaques, both the groomer and the Macaque receiving the grooming both experience an increase in levels of stress and anxiety directly after the grooming. It is believed that the sudden stop of the grooming increases the stress of the Macaque receiving the grooming. Many believe that the Macaques see the sanitary as more necessary than the increase in stress afterwards.  
Since 1918, all Gibraltar Macaques have been provisioned by the Gibraltar government until 1999 when the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society took over the provisioning. Their initial focus was on keeping them from traveling to nearby urban ares in search of food. Although being illegal, some tourists and taxi drivers still feed the macaques except those located on Middle Hill which is a former military base that is off limits to tourists, therefore these macaques have a fully provisioned diet. It has also been documented that macaques with a higher hierarchical status stay by the provisioned feeding sites a feed freely while younger macaques visit the site randomly.
Barbary macaques live in groups consisting of multiple males and females. This species exhibits female philopatry where the females remain were they were born and grew up while the males of the group leave once they reach sexual maturity to find unrelated females to copulate with.
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Barbary Macaques in Gibraltar live in very social settings and “form relatively egalitarian societies”(Kümmerli and Martin). They also live in polygamous societies in which the females mate with almost all males within their population. The females within the population are often considered promiscuous (Pfefferle et al). Barbary macaques have a distinct annual mating season that is typically between the months of October and December within the population inhabiting Gibraltar resulting with each female giving birth to one infant during the summer (Modolo and Martin). Mating occurs within these months and specifically in the Gibraltar population females are able to give birth to at least one infant because there is relatively no pressure from outside sources because there are no predators for the population of Barbary macaques and there is also an abundance of resources in Gibraltar. When it comes to mating the female makes copulation calls, which are loud calls that the females make before, during, and after mating (Pfefferle et al). These copulations calls usually are what signal to the male that the female is ready to mate, however one study suggests that the males know when the females are in their fertile phase and as a result concentrate on mating during those specific times (Heistermann et al). Due to the fact that the female Barbary macaque mates with almost all males within their social groups, it is often hard to distinct which male is fathering an infant. This creates competition between males and their reproductive success. After mating, the male will usually stay in contact with the female in order to ensure his reproductive success. Staying in contact with the female, the male makes sure that no other males try to mate with the designated female (Semple). Another study investigates whether there is a social rank among the Barbary macaques and whether there is a dominance hierarchy and if so how that relates to mating and offspring. One study suggests that there is a correlation between dominance and reproductive success within the Barbary macaques, however one study observed the Barbary macaques specific to Gibraltar and found that within the Gibraltar population there does not seem to be any correlation between the two perhaps because unlike the populations outside of Gibraltar, which are declining, the Gibraltar population is thriving and there is perhaps not as much pressure (Modolo and Martin). The Barbary macaque population in Gibraltar is successful and thriving and provides hope that they will not be going extinct any time soon.
The climate in a particular area can specify what type of animals lives in that certain location. The Barbary macaques are no different. The amount of climate change and climate behavior has a major impact in their geographic spreading. They are able to adapt to varied climate environments, from hot summer days to snowy winter nights, they do that by altering their behavior to keep their body warm or cold. During climate change their diets also change and they use different strategies “fallback food” (Majolo, McFarland, Young, Qarro) which they can use for when bark turn out to be an important basis of water and nutrients. Macaques are known to strip and consume cedar bark. One of the main behavior’s they use to survive is called “Stripping Behavior” which is when water, minerals and/or nutrients are hard to find or not available. Stripping these trees can increase the chances of the trees catching diseases and decrease timber quality as well. The Gibraltar Barbary macaques are big tourist attractions and therefore some of the feeding comes from human activity. Some groups also live in tourist sites where they are fed visitors and are affected by their presence.  
The Gibraltar Barbary macaques are considered by many to be the top tourist attraction in Gibraltar. The most popular troop is that of Queen's Gate at the Apes' Den, where people can get especially close to the monkeys. They will often approach and sometimes climb onto people, as they are used to human interaction. Nevertheless, they are still wild animals and will bite if frightened or annoyed.
The macaques' contact with large numbers of tourists was causing the integrity of their social groups to break down, as they began to become dependent on humans. This induced the monkeys to forage in the town, resulting in damages to buildings, clothing, and vehicles. For this reason, feeding the macaques in Gibraltar is now an offence punishable by law. Anyone caught feeding the monkeys is liable to be fined up to £4,000.
Although tourism is beneficial for the local economy and the recognition and conservation of the Gibraltar Barbary macaques it also have negative implications. Tourism can negatively affect the monkey's health, reproduction and the ability for their population to strive maintain growth. The groups of the macaques that are normally exposed to tourits have elevated levels of anxiety due to being photographed, facing aggressive interactions with tourists and feeding. Even though feeding the macaques is illegal some tourists and taxi drivers still do.
Gibraltar's barbary macaque population was under the care of the British Army and later the Gibraltar Regiment from 1915 to 1991, who carefully controlled a population that initially consisted of a single troop. An officer was appointed to supervise their welfare, and a food allowance of fruit, vegetables and nuts was included in the budget. Births were gazetted in true military fashion, and each new arrival was named. They were named after governors, brigadiers and high-ranking officers. Any ill or injured monkey needing surgery or any other form of medical attention was taken to Royal Naval Hospital Gibraltar and received the same treatment as would an enlisted service man. Following the withdrawal of the British garrison, the Government of Gibraltar took over responsibility for the monkeys.
Officers in charge
- Sgt. Alfred Holmes  of the Gibraltar Regiment (circa 1958 – circa 1986)
- Pte. Kenneth Asquez of the Gibraltar Regiment (circa 1986 – 1991)
The monkeys are currently managed by the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS), and veterinarian expertise is provided by the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic. The macaques receive a daily supply of fresh water and vegetables, fruit and seeds as supplement to natural food resources (leaves, olives, roots, seeds and flowers). The animals are caught on a regular basis to check their health status. Additionally, body size, weight and several other measurements are taken. Finally, the animals are given a tattoo number and a microchip as a means of identification. But tattoos are not the only way to recognise individual macaques; many of them have particular marks, scars or spots which can be used as distinguishing features. All monkeys are photographed and the pictures and individual characteristics are catalogued. Cataloguing work is carried out by the GONHS. The GONHS also does collaborative studies with the Scientific Institute of Rabat-Agdal University (Morocco), the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA), the University of Vienna (Austria), the German Primate Centre (Germany) and the University of Zurich (Switzerland).
Once every year, a census is conducted to provide data and to monitor reproductive success of the whole population. These demographic data are important for the management of the population generally, and fertility regulation in selected individuals, specifically. Since Barbary macaque females reproduce well, the population on Gibraltar is steadily increasing, which in turn puts pressure on the limited habitat. Animal population control is therefore an essential part of the effective management of the population. In 2008 a small group of macaques that had permanently relocated to the Catalan Bay area were culled. In 2012 the Government Minister for Health and the Environment Dr. John Cortes stated that the Government was investigating the possibility of reintroducing over a hundred macaques to their natural habitat in North Africa.
A popular belief holds that as long as Gibraltar Barbary macaques exist on Gibraltar, the territory will remain under British rule. In 1942 (during World War II), after the population dwindled to just a handful of individuals (just seven monkeys), British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill ordered their numbers be replenished immediately from forest fragments in both Morocco and Algeria because of this traditional belief.
Another story links Gibraltar to Africa by a subterranean passage over 15 miles (24 km) long which begins at Lower St. Michael's Cave and passes under the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Gibraltar Barbary macaques entered The Rock from Morocco this way.
There is still uncertainty regarding thirteen of the seventeen non-flying mammal species found in the wild in both north-west Africa and south-west Europe as to where the species originated and how they arrived to where they are now. These locations are separated by the Straits of Gibraltar which acts as an impassible barrier to non-flying mammals which is the case in the story of the subterranean passage that connects Africa to Gibraltar.
In popular culture
- The Gibraltar Barbary macaque has featured on the Gibraltar pound's five-pence coin since 1988 and on the tercentenary edition one penny coin since 2004.
- They are also featured in the 2007 Stieg Larsson novel The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.
- The Gibraltar Barbary macaques are also central to the plot of Paul Gallico's 1962 comedic novel Scruffy, set during WWII when their numbers were dwindling.
- James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is startled by one in the pre-credit sequence of the 1987 film The Living Daylights during a training exercise on Gibraltar. Several more are seen watching and getting out of the way of Bond's struggle with an assassin on a burning munitions truck as it speeds through the tourist zone.
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|Wikispecies has information related to: Barbary macaque|
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- Phylogeography of Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) and the origin of the Gibraltar colony. Clear distinction between Algerian and Moroccan haplotypes permits attribution of the Gibraltar colony to founders from both regions.
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- The Barbary Apes Tourist Attraction of Gibraltar
- News on Penalties for Feeding the Barbary Macaques in Gibraltar
- Laëtitia Maréchal, Stuart Semple, Bonaventura Majolo, Mohamed Qarro, Michael Heistermann, Ann MacLarnon, Impacts of tourism on anxiety and physiological stress levels in wild male Barbary macaques, Biological Conservation, Volume 144, Issue 9, September 2011, Pages 2188-2193, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2011.05.010.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320711002084)
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- Charles E. Perez; Keith J. Bensusan (2005). Upper Rock Nature Reserve: A Management and Action Plan. Gibraltar: Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society. p. 165. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- Info on Gibraltar Barbary Macaques from the GONHS official website
- Govan, Fiona (27 November 2012). "Gibraltar's apes 'have lost their fear of humans'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- St Michaels Cave
- Gibraltar Taxi Association
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- Frances D. Burton: The Integration of Biology and Behavior in the Socialization of Macaca sylvana of Gibraltar