Celebes Crested Macaque
Crested Black Macaque (Macaca nigra)
Common Name Crested Black Macaque, Sulawesi Crested Macaque and Black Ape
Range Tangkoko reserve, northeast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes), as well as on smaller neighboring islands.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Primates
Family Cercopithecidae
Genus Macaca
Species Macaca nigra
Conservation Status
Critically Endangered

The Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra), also known as the Crested black macaque, Sulawesi crested macaque, or the Black ape, is a species of macaque that lives in the Tangkoko reserve, northeast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes), as well as on smaller neighboring islands.


Locally known as yaki or wolai, its skin and hairless face is, with the exception of some white hair in the shoulder range, entirely jet black. Unusually for a primate, it has striking reddish-brown eyes. The long muzzle with high cheeks and the long hair tuft, or crest, at the top side of the head are remarkable. The tail is only approximately 2 cm (1 in) of stub. With a total body length of 44 cm (17 in) to 60 cm (24 in) and a weight of 3.6 to 10.4 kg, it is one of the smaller macaque species. Its life expectancy is estimated at approximately 20 years.


The Celebes crested macaque is a diurnal w:c:plant:rainforest dweller. This macaque is primarily terrestrial, spending more than 60% of its day on the ground foraging for food and socializing, while sleeping and searching for food in the trees.

The Celebes crested macaque is frugivorous, with 70% of its diet consisting of fruits. It also consumes leaves, buds, seeds, fungus, birds and bird eggs, insects (such as caterpillars), and the occasional small lizard or frog.

Group Behavior

It lives in groups of 5 to 25 animals. Smaller groups have only a single male, while larger groups have up to four males. The females, however, always outnumber the males by about 4:1. Since young males must leave their birth group upon maturity, they sometimes form bachelor groups before they look for a connection to an existing mixed group. Communication consists of various sounds and gestures; such as the presentation of the long eyeteeth while grimacing a clear threatening gesture.

Human Interactions

Macaca nigra self-portrait

One of the disputed "selfie" photographs taken by a celebes crested macaque

Because it devastates crops and fields, the Celebes crested macaque is hunted as a pest. It is also hunted to provide bushmeat. Clearing the rain forests further threatens its survival. Its situation on the small neighbouring islands of Sulawesi (such as Bacan) is somewhat better, since these have a low human population. The total population of the macaque on Sulawesi is estimated at 4,000-6,000, while a booming population of up to 100,000 monkeys is found on Bacan.

A recent series of survey trips to Sulawesi and the Minehasa forest area was made in 2004-2009 by Vicki Melfi, who is EEP studbook holder for these macaques, based at Paignton Zoo / the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. She has been monitoring population density, which has declined from over 300 individuals per square kilometre in 1980 to 20 to 60 individuals today. A conservation programme called Selamatkan Yaki—or "Save the Yaki", as this macaque is known in the local language—was launched with local partners and other conservation groups from Thailand, Germany and the Wildlife Conservation Society (based in the United States). Both Newquay Zoo|Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo are among a number of mostly European zoos which hold ex-situ breeding populations of this animal.

In 2014, considerable discussion of copyright issues was generated by a "selfie" photograph taken by a celebes crested macaque.

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