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Common Name : Toque Monkey     -       Scientific Name : Macaca sinica       -       Other Name : Red Monkey (E), Rilawa (S)
Thammanna Wala
Thammanna Wala

This is a species endemic to the country. Three subspecies have been recognized.

  • M.s.sinica – North-East and South-East dry zone of the country.
  • M.s.aurifrons – South-West parts of the country. Wet zone lowlands from the coast to the foothills up to an altitude of about 2000 meters.
  • M.s.opisthomelas - South-Central montane parts of the country above 1800 meters in altitude.

The cap of dry zone Toque Monkey M.s.sinica is golden brown where as the wet zone Toque Monkey M.s.aurifrons has strong yellow anterior crown hairs that contrast with a darker brown posterior. The highland Toque Monkey M.s.opisthomelas is the largest of the subspecies, with relatively short and stout limbs.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as Least Concerned (National Red List 2012).

This is a very common species that is found throughout the country. They are common in forests as well as in well-wooded areas close to human habitations. This species is quite bold and would enter houses and other buildings in search of food if left unattended. These monkeys are quite commonly found around most archaeological sites, meditation centres and Buddhist Temples close to forests where they thrive on hand outs given by the visitor.

In the North I have seen them at Arippu but have not seen them in the Jaffna Peninsula or in the Mannar Island. Other than in the extreme north they are quite common throughout then rest of the country. These monkeys are quite common in the hill city of Kandy, which is close to the Udawatta Kele forest reserve.

This species is not very common at Wilpattu. The bold Toque Monkeys found at the Kumbuk Wila summer hut is said to belong to a troop that had been captured from a locality close to a human habitation and released in side the park.