The following stunts were performed by a troupe of trained professionals. Please don’t attempt them at home. It is believed that this is what makes them endangered.
ACT 1. Aerial Acrobatics
Swinging between branches, dangling down the vines and performing acrobatic stunts in the process. The relentless efforts of a primate are always well lauded with a standing ovation. But, today was different.
Inspired by his family’s gymnastic feats, baby Wanderoo decided to jump on the bandwagon. When his mother was busy allogrooming her sisters, he took his first leap of fame.
Not all stunts end well.
Thud swish swoosh… Thadammmm.
He lands on the floor, the distraught audience on looking the scene.
He brushes off the mud, looks up at his mother and screams, “Didn’t you see me fall? Come lift me “.
He turns towards his anxious audience, embarrassed, puts his head down in shame.
The audience couldn’t help but go aww over this bundle of cuteness.
Soon, his aunt crawls down a vine and tries to distract the audience with her cacophony. In no time, his mother swoops down the tree, sweeps him into her lap and clears the stage.
The incident described above is a classic portrayal of a vigilant troop. Social animals like lion tailed macaque are usually protective of their family. When the baby fell, the whole troop was cautious. Loud screeches by the macaques were not just meant to alert the mother, but also to protect the baby from potential danger. LTM’s usually fall prey to predators like leopards. Few of them had a constant eye on us till the baby was safe with its mother.
Act 2. The Camera Conscious Foodie
This segment is about a sub adult Wanderoo, who lives to eat. This young lad glides down a tree with fresh figs in hand. Unaware of a viewership, he performs his own musical as he chomps and walks the stage.
I’m being watched, a sudden hunch and he looks around suspiciously. The moment his eyes met my camera, the expressions on his face changed and had us laughing our heads off.
Phase one, Oh God! Another photographer.
Phase two, why am I always caught eating by these camera folks. Must diet.
Phase three, Stop it, will you? Haven’t you got enough shots already?
Phase four, Okay, let me cover my mouth and hide the crumbs. The least I can do to look decent in the pictures.
Lion tailed macaques feed on fruits, small insects, leaves, fungi and sometimes small animals. Each troop comprises of 10 to 30 individuals. The diet a troop sticks to is usually set by the dominant matriarch of the family. Their huge canines are useful when it comes to breaking jackfruits.
Act 3. I Am Hulk
The spectators at the carnival were in for another surprise. The next act started with a shower of moss infested wood chunks, a way of drawing attention. As we look up we see a young muscular lad on the fork, flexing his muscles. After a preparatory round of deep inhalations, he starts gnawing into the bark.
First attempt, utter failure. But, the Hulk never gives up.
The second attempt, he applies more force, the intensity you could watch on his face. He even uses his hands and legs for additional impact.
Alas, all the hard work and preparation goes down the drain. Except for a drizzle of wood splinters, the bark stood there, as solid as a rock. The crestfallen yet chivalrous Hulk took a bow before his fans as he exited the stage.
LTM’s love devouring on insects. The bark of a tree hosts a variety of them. Their huge canines are helpful when it comes to crushing wood and relishing a tasty meal of juicy bugs.
The ebullience displayed by the lion tailed macaques is magnetic. One can’t take their eyes off the bundle of pranks and mischief in the frame. But sadly, they are endangered.
Lion Tailed Macaques are territorial and need an adequate area of lush evergreen forests. They procreate once in 3 years, as a result, their population doesn’t rise rapidly. Most of their habitat has been converted into segmented tea plantations. This leaves the canopies disconnected, making it hard for food/territory quests. They also become victims of horrendous incidents of road kill.
To mitigate habitat disruption and road deaths, Nature Conservation Foundation has installed several canopy bridges in Valparai. It makes it easy for the macaques to voyage around their habitat. Monitoring these bridges have shown the macaques utilizing them for traversing through discontinuous canopies.
The lion Tailed Macaques play a pivotal role in the forests as seed dispersers. They are important for forest restoration which helps in preventing soil erosion and greenhouse effect. Awareness and sensitivity towards their habitat could result in a sustainable co-existence.
A chance of reverting the damage done so far lies with mankind, one small step at a time.