Barbary macaque species protection project

Zoo support since:2015                                  
Conservation status in the Red List:endangered
Location of the conservation project:Bouhachem in Morocco

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Barbary macaques (Barbary apes) are the only macaques outside Asia and the only apes in Africa north of the Sahara. A very few populations – totaling about 8000 to 10,000 animals – still inhabit the mountain forests of Morocco and Algeria. One group also inhabits Gibraltar, where it was apparently introduced on purpose.

The greatest threat facing these apes is the reduction, destruction and fragmentation of their habitat. Several populations are also under pressure because many young animals are also being captured for the pet market in Morocco (as well as in Europe!).

The zoo supports the species protection project "Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation" (BMAC), which is devoted to help protect these macaques in Morocco. A BMAC employee, Achmed Chetuan, is being funded by the zoo. He holds talks in schools, where he introduces school children to the Barbary macaque issue. He also talks with shepherds, explaining the important roles that these macaques play in the ecosystem, and monitors wild macaque groups.


BMAC conducts education programs for children and adults. The topics include sustainable agriculture and the keeping of domestic animals. BMAC cooperates closely with the local authorities in Morocco to enforce the confiscation of illegally captured Barbary macaques. Such apes, mostly juveniles, are misused as “props” for tourist photos. BMAC is working to ensure that, whenever feasible, they are released into the wild and become integrated in free-living groups. Moreover, in cooperation with local shepherds, BMAC collects data on the behavior and whereabouts of free-living barbary apes in the mountain forests of Bouhachem in Morocco.


Over the long term, BMAC strives to promote a change in the behavior of local residents in the sense of nature conservation and species protection. The understanding for conservation issues is poorly developed, especially in rural Morocco. One focus is on children: they should be educated to appreciate the requirements of animals in general and Barbary macaques in particular.

This is how Schönbrunn Zoo is supporting the project:

  • funding the Monkey Bus, a Land Rover, which is used for the fieldwork and to confiscate illegally held animals
  • annual funding for the employee Ahmed Chetuan
  • project presentations during guided tours and events

This is how Schönbrunn Zoo is supporting the project:

Projektleiterin Dr. Siân S. Waters: "Funding from EAZA zoos is crucial to our work and support from Zoo Vienna will allow us to train a local man, Ahmed Chetuan as our Bouhachem forest education officer. Ahmed will visit village schools to deliver lessons about the Barbary macaque and the forest on which it depends, organise local events and continue to monitor macaques and engage with shepherds in the mountains where he lives. With the help of Zoo Vienna, a substantial population of Barbary macaques in Bouhachem will continue to be protected by the local people supported and assisted by Ahmed Chetuan and the BMAC team".