Monkeying Around with a Private English Tutor
Even this private tutor has time off occasionally. This post continues my mini-series of places of interest in my area by looking at 140 Barbary macaque monkeys that I manage to sneak off and photograph from time to time.
Living in the middle of England, I am privy to both beautiful scenery and an area that has woven itself into the historical fabric of Britain. My last post took a brief look at Trentham Hall; once the home of the Duke of Sutherland, one of U.K.’s wealthiest members of the aristocracy during the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
60 acres of the Trentham estate is now home to these beautiful monkeys. These macaques are the same as those found on Gibraltar.
I love the photo above. Just how chilled out, cool and relaxed is that! Don’t you wish you take a tip out of his book?
I have a problem with zoos – cages! My heart always goes out to the poor captives. Trentham Monkey Forest is a little different. The whole 60 acres is surrounded by fencing but there are no cages within that area. There is a path that meanders amongst the woodland and stream. The path is for humans and the rest of the space is for the monkeys. Of course, they are still captives but this seems a kind of ‘halfway house’. The Monkey Forest offers much in the way of education and even has a classroom for schools to use.
This little guy looks really sad to be chained in but the picture is a little deceptive. The chain is slung between two wooden posts. It is there to keep the humans on the path. The monkeys are free to walk where ever they want, path and all.
The Barbary macaque species were upgraded from vulnerable to endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources) Red List of Threatened Species on Monday 6th October 2008. Thirty years ago it is estimated that there were 23,000 in the wild, today there are less than 10,000. Trentham and its three sister monkey forests in France and Germany have released 600 back to the Atlas Mountains, their natural home.
Always born during the night, it is an absolute pleasure to be able to photograph one that is less than one day old.
Within three months the babies are extremely active and one of the favoured methods of parental control is to restrain the youngster by holding its leg.
It is not long before the little ones start to notice their surroundings. I have always thought that at this stage they look more like chimpanzees than macaques.
A common sight is the youngster clinging on underneath. Note that macaques do not have tails.
After four or five months they become a real handful for their parents as they are able to start to explore. However, they are looked after by other troop members, not just their biological parents.
These two may not be its natural parents.
Looking directly into their eyes is seen as threatening behaviour but as I am hiding behind the camera this inquisitive character does not seem too intimidated.
And so it is that there must always be a set of rules. This private tutor once sat down there and was told off by the guide for pouring a cup of coffee from my thermos – yes, I should have known better!