Celebes Crested Macaques

Indonesia is home to many incredible animals. Due to it’s geographical presence between the Asian and Australian plates, Indonesian flora and fauna have a unique evolution. During the last ice age, the deep seas between Borneo and Sulawesi and Sulawesi and Papua acted as barriers to animal migration. These two dividing lines: the Wallace Line and the Weber Line, now mark the boundaries of Asian and Australian animals. The Asian side is home to mammals such as monkeys and macaques whereas the Australian side is dominated by marsupials.

Celebes Crested Macaques
Orange Eyes

North Sulawesi

Sulawesi island lies between the two boundaries and is home to a population of both primates and marsupials. There are several animals in Sulawesi that are not found in many other areas of the world. One of these is the Celebes crested macaque, Macaca nigra. This striking animal is endemic to North Sulawesi and a few surrounding islands. There is also an introduced population of them on the island of Bacan in Halmahera. These monkeys are considered Critically Endangered, especially in their home range of Sulawesi. However, they are only protected in one part of their home range, the Tangkoko National Park.

These black colored maqaques are very interesting to look at. Their crested “mohawk” hair and bright orange eyes make them unmistakable. The bright colour of their eyes creates very animated facial expressions. They tend to live in family groups of around 20-25 individuals but also may socialize in a larger clan of 75 or more. They are mainly a ground dwelling species and only go into trees in order to feed, sleep, or escape danger. Their diet consists of fruit but also eggs, insects, and small lizards and birds. They are not a large macaque with a maximum height and weight of 60cm and 11kg. (2 feet and 30 pounds)

Macaques Eating Coconut
Eating a Coconut

The Tangkoko National Park

The Tangkoko National Park is located at the far northern end of North Sulawesi province. This
8700 hectare nature reserve is home to a variety of animals including tarsier, hornbills, cuscus, and black macaques. The park is home to the vast majority of crested macaques left in Sulawesi. Unfortunately, the populations outside of the park are not protected and are often killed for bush meat. Many locals see them as pests as they tend to devastate crops of fruit.

Visiting the park is a great way to see these animals up close and personal. They have no fear of humans and will ignore the presence of most. This behavior makes for incredible photo opportunities as it’s easy to approach individuals. Of course all of this is done with a licensed guide/ranger who accompanies everyone who visits the reserve. These talented guides will also point out the other wildlife as well. No visit to the park is complete without staying around until dusk when the tiny tarsiers wake up to forage.

Tarsier in a Tree

Visit the Celebes Crested Macaques

Sadly there are only four to six thousand of these charismatic animals remaining in their native habitat. A trip to the Manado area is a great addition to a cruise on the Samata. This allows for a chance to visit the Tangkoko reserve and see these adorable animals up close and personal. The Manado area offers great diving and snorkeling sites as well as the park. It also offers a direct flight from Singapore and is an option for travelers to enter and depart Indonesia. Manado is also a great point of entry when joining the Samata on a journey to Raja Ampat. If you are interested in visiting these delightful primates, then please let us know.

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