15 Types of Monkeys Found in the Middle East (2024)

What kinds of monkeys live in the Middle East?

Luckily, there are quite a few species you should be able to find. So, keep reading to learn how to identify each monkey, ape, and primate, and learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!

15 monkey species that live in the middle east:

#1. Hamadryas Baboon

  • Papio Hamadryas 

Identifying Characteristics 

  • Males have a silver-white cape that develops when they are about the age of ten. They’re much larger than females, up to 80 cm (31 in) tall.
  • Females are brown all over. They grow 40-45 cm (16-18 in) tall.
  • Both sexes have long tails that end in a tuft of fur.

Hamadryas Baboons live in arid grasslands, savannas, and rocky areas. They require cliffs for sleeping and finding water. However, these primates are omnivorous and adapt to dry habitats better than the other baboons.

In the wet months, they feed on blossoms, wild roots, seeds, grasses, bark, and leaves from acacia trees. In the dry season, they eat dobera glabra and sisal tree leaves. Hamadryas Baboons also feed on spiders, scorpions, worms, insects, birds, and small mammals, including antelope. 

Striped Hyenas, Spotted Hyenas, and African Leopards are their natural predators. Though they may be at risk through habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and irrigation projects, there are no major threats to their population. 

#2. Grivet

  • Chlorocebus aethiops 

Identifying Characteristics:  

  •  Adults are 42-49 cm (17-19 in) long, and their tails are 30–50 cm (12–20 in) long.
  • Their faces have a white line above the eyes and long white whiskers on the cheeks. 
  • They have olive and white-colored fur with a spiky texture. Additionally, their bellies have a distinctive blue coloring.  

These monkeys in the Middle East spend their time on the ground.

They’re most active in the mornings and early evenings. Then, at night, they use trees for sleeping. These social primates spend a lot of time playing, grooming one another, and climbing.  

Grivets prefer to live in savanna woodlands near a water source, especially during the dry season. However, they can easily adapt to all kinds of environments.

Unfortunately, their population is threatened by a variety of factors. Often, they are hunted for food or killed for commercial purposes. Another huge concern is the destruction of their natural habitat for development. Additionally, Grivets have to watch out for predators like large snakes, leopards, and sometimes even baboons. 

#3. Bale Monkey

  • Chlorocebus djamdjamensis  

Also known as the Bale Mountains Vervet.

Identifying Characteristics:  

  • Their fur is shades of brown, gray, and white, with a spiky texture.
  • They have black hairless faces, large brown eyes, and a white “beard” over the chin.

Bale Monkeys live in the Middle East in the bamboo forests of the Bale Mountains.

They can be difficult to spot because they’re very shy and will run away if they see a human. However, they sometimes steal food from agricultural fields if they get comfortable with the area. Farmers, unfortunately, retaliate by hunting the monkeys.

Bale Monkeys are threatened due to habitat loss and hunting. They feed primarily on bamboo, so deforestation is a major concern. In some areas, their population has been decimated by hunting. However, they’re protected in nature preserves like Bale Mountains National Park and Harena-Kokosa. 

#4. Blue Nile Patas Monkey

  • Erythrocebus poliophaeus   
Credit:  Blue Nile patas monkey. (2022, September 19). Wikipedia.

Identifying Characteristics:  

  • Their limbs, bellies, and necks are covered in white fur, while the fur on their backs is a rusty brown.
  • They have black faces, rings of pink skin around the eyes, and white hair above the lips that look like a handlebar mustache.

Finding Blue Nile Patas Monkeys in the Middle East is extremely rare!

These elusive primates have a small, fragmented range, and experts haven’t collected enough data to know if their population is threatened.

Humans are likely a threat to the Blue Nile Patas Monkey. The development of housing and farms has further shrunk their habitat. People also try to sell them illegally, which may pose a threat to their population.  

#5. De Brazza’s Monkey

  • Cercopithecus neglectus  

Identifying Characteristics:  

  • Their fur is grayish-brown on their bodies, and they have black limbs and tails.
  • They have a tuft of rusty fur above their eyebrows, white muzzles, and a white “beard.”

De Brazza’s Monkeys can be very aggressive!

They’re well-known for bullying other monkeys, especially those competing for food resources. However, they’re also known for forming strong bonds with their mates and troop members.

Look for them in dense forests; they leave only when they have to find food. Finding De Brazza’s Monkeys can be hard because they’re wary of people and stealthy in the forest.

Eagles, leopards, chimpanzees, and humans are the major predators of De Brazza’s Monkeys. Dogs and pythons may also attack their young. When they sense danger, these primates hide against a tree and stay silent until the predator goes away.  

De Brazza’s Monkeys are not in danger of extinction currently. However, they are losing their natural habitat because of increased human development. They’re also frequently hunted as food, contributing to a decline in population.  

#6. Gelada

  • Theropithecus gelada  

Identifying Characteristics:  

  • Adults are 50–75 cm (20–30 in) tall with 30–50 cm (12–20 in) long tails.
  • Their fur is brown and usually darker on the back.
  • They have hairless black faces and distinctive patches of red skin on their necks and chests.

Geladas are sometimes called “bleeding-heart monkeys” because of the distinctive red patch on their chests. 

They eat the blades and seeds of grasses, flowers, roots, and herbs. Sometimes they also eat insects, but up to 90% of their diet is grass. They have a unique walking style when they move around to feed. They “gallop” with their front limbs on the ground for balance.

Amazingly, this monkey in the Middle East wears a costume!

You might notice they have enormous canines and large mouths, indicating they are hunters and eat meat. However, this isn’t the case at all. They developed these features as a defensive strategy to keep predators away. If I saw those teeth up close, I’d back away slowly!

YouTube video

#7. Himalayan Gray Langur

  • Semnopithecus schistaceus

Also known as the Nepal Gray Langur or Nepal Sacred Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 51-79 cm (20-31 in) long with 69-102 cm (27-40 in) tails.
  • Long white hair frames their deep black faces.
  • They have brown-gray coats of fur with lighter undersides.

As their name suggests, these primates are endemic to the Himalayan region. They love to spend time on the ground and up among trees. Himalayan Gray Langurs pick out the highest branches to sleep on at night. They’re speedy runners that can leap a whopping five meters (16.4 feet) with their strong hind limbs!

These monkeys in the Middle East enjoy munching on leaves, fruits, and insects.

Sometimes, they lick rocks and eat dirt to get their daily salt and minerals. Interestingly, they often eat the leaves of strychnine trees, which are highly toxic. To counter that, these clever langurs eat gum from Kulu trees. It’s a natural laxative, eliminating the poison faster.

When it comes to socializing, female Himalayan Gray Langurs usually have good relationships. The males, on the other hand, can be unpredictable. One minute they’re all getting along, and the next, a fight could break out! But don’t worry; it’s all part of their playful nature.  

#8. Rhesus Macaque

  • Macaca mulatta

Also known as the Rhesus Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 47-53 cm (19-21 in) long, and their tails are 21-23 cm (8-9 in).
  • They have bare pink faces and large ears.
  • Their fur coats are pale auburn or grayish brown.

These monkeys in the Middle East thrive in various habitats, from grasslands to wooded regions and tropical forests. If you’re lucky enough to come across a troop, you might see up to 200 individuals hanging out, even in urban areas. You’ll quickly notice that Rhesus Macaques are energetic and social! They communicate with various facial expressions, body postures, vocalizations, and gestures. Always on the move, they love to play on the ground and in the trees. However, they become lazier during the hotter seasons.

When it’s snack time, these monkeys love to chow down on fruits, roots, bark, and even bugs! They’ve got cheek pouches that act like little food storage units. Just be wary of Rhesus Macaques that comb through garbage cans. They might be a little too comfortable around humans and try to snag your snacks!

Unfortunately, rival groups of these monkeys tend to be violent. They’ll even attempt to kill each other upon their first meeting. Fighting within groups is also common. And once they’ve had a conflict, they tend to hold grudges for life!

The wild Rhesus Macaque population is threatened, but they have been widely used in medical and biological research done by humans. They’ve played a significant role in scientific discoveries, including vaccines for smallpox, polio, and rabies and in medication to treat HIV/AIDS.

#9. Somali Lesser Galago

Galago gallarum  

Also known as the Somali Bushbaby.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 41-46 cm (16-18 in) long, and their tails are about 25 cm (10 in).
  • They have black or dark brown fur with white for grayish bellies.
  • The fur on their faces is white.

Somali Lesser Galagos reside in thorny woodlands and semi-arid scrub. These monkeys in the Middle East are nocturnal, meaning they’re only active at night. In addition, they rarely leave the trees, so they can be hard to spot!

Despite their small size, these monkeys have a few tricks to stay safe from predators. First, they move with surprising speed through vegetation. In addition, their fur provides camouflage, so they blend into the dense forest. Finally, they have amazingly sharp eyesight, which allows them to see danger well before a predator spots them!  

Somali Lesser Galagos are fairly widespread and common in their range. However, their natural habitat is changing due to climate change and human factors. Their population has decreased slightly due to habitat degradation but is still stable. They live in several protected areas, including Meru National Park, Shabha National Reserve, and Arawale National Reserve.   

#10. Vervet Monkey

  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus

Also known as the Vervet, Common Vervet, Desert Tumbuli, or Yellow Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 42-60 cm (17-24 in) long with 49-75 cm (19-30 in) tails.
  • Males are larger, and you can easily identify them by their bright blue scrotums.
  • They have black faces. Their fur coats are shades of gray that grow brown towards the back.

Keep your food hidden! Vervet Monkeys are bold and frequently steal food from households.

These cheeky monkeys live in the Middle East in woodlands, savannahs, and mountainous regions. Their behavior is incredibly similar to humans, with some individuals showing traits such as anxiety and alcoholism.

YouTube video

Vervet Monkeys spend as much time among the trees as they do on the ground. When foraging the forest floor, they gather in groups of 10-40 individuals. Then, after a long day, they climb back up to the highest branches to rest.

Note that these monkeys are highly territorial and will scream aggressively at any intruders! For example, if a Vervet spots a predator lurking around, it will bellow an alarm call to inform others of the danger.

#11. Blue Monkey

  • Cercopithecus mitis

Also known as the Diademed Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-65 cm (20-26 in) long.
  • Look for a white patch of fur on their necks. They also have round, furry cheeks.
  • Contrary to their name, Blue Monkeys have grayish or olive coats.

Look for Blue Monkeys in the Middle East high among the tree canopy.

They prefer shaded areas with high humidity and nearby water sources. Blue Monkeys are occasional allies and share territory with Red-tailed Monkeys. On the other hand, they avoid Baboons and Chimpanzees, which sometimes prey on them.

Blue Monkeys function in groups of 10-15. An alpha male acts as the leader of several subgroups consisting of females and their children. Females can be aggressive towards one another, especially when defending their food.

Roughly half of their diets are fruits, but they also eat flowers, leaves, and slow-moving invertebrates. Blue Monkeys rarely leave the safety of treetops, so don’t expect to come across one at ground level. However, sometimes, they bask in the early morning sun from lower bare branches.

#12. Mantled Guereza

  • Colobus guereza

Also known as the Eastern Black-and-white Colobus and Omo River Guereza.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 62 cm (24 in). 
  • Their faces are framed with white hair, but the tufts on their heads are black. Their tails have white tufts towards the tips.
  • Their coats are mostly black with long, white-tipped hairs on the back.

The Mantled Guereza is one of the prettiest monkeys in the Middle East. They hang out in groups of 3-15 members, usually near river streams. You’ll have to look up the treetops to spot them! They leap across branches with ease, only descending to the ground when the gaps in the canopy are too wide.

The most common way to find Mantled Guerezas is to listen. They make a chorus of roars just before sunrise! Dominant males from different groups roar at one another to declare their territories. This prevents unnecessary conflict between the groups. 

YouTube video

With only leaves, flowers, and unripe fruits as their source of nutrition, these monkeys don’t get enough energy for long travel and foraging. Instead, they take turns sleeping throughout the day, with at least one individual acting as a guard against predators.

#13. Senegal Bushbaby

  • Galago senegalensis

Also known as the Northern Lesser Galago.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Even as adults, these tiny creatures are only 9-21 cm (4-8 in) long, with 11-28 cm (4-11 in) tails.
  • They have notably large and rounded eyes. Their ears, hands, and feet are also proportionally large.
  • Their wooly coats range from gray to brown. Some have stripes and markings on their bodies.

Senegal Bushbabies thrive in dry woodlands and savannas in the Middle East.

Don’t blink, or you’ll miss them! These fast little critters sprint and leap through the tangle of branches, using their long tails for balance.

They make up for what they lack in size with an array of adaptive abilities. Senegal Bushbabies are equipped with large eyes to help them see in the dark of night. Also, their twitchy ears can detect the faintest sounds from the insects they feed on. Finally, their tongues are narrow enough to reach deep into cracks where bugs hide. These primates eat fruits, nuts, and tree sap if they can’t find prey.

Interestingly, Senegal Bushbabies got their name because their cries sound like that of a human infant! Family units of 2-5 mark their territories with urine to keep outsiders from trespassing. Adult females and their children sleep together in tree hollows, while adult males sleep alone. They tend to bite and spit when threatened, so try not to startle them.

#14. Olive Baboon

  • Papio anubis

Also known as the Anubis Baboon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 85 cm (33 in) long. 
  • Their long muzzles resemble a dog’s, and their tails are strangely bent as if they were broken.
  • As their name suggests, their fur has an olive tint.

Olive Baboons are among the largest monkeys in the Middle East!

You’ll find them in savannas, forests, and grasslands. These primates gather in groups of 15-150 members.

Their flexible diets, as well as their adaptability to different habitats, have made them the most widespread species of all baboons. Olive Baboons eat anything from plants to small animals. When hunting as a band, they can even take down small antelopes! Populations close to farmlands also prey on goats and sheep.

These monkeys follow a complex social hierarchy. Adult females form the core of the system, with social ranks passed down from mother to daughter. Several females create smaller sub-groups to groom each other and provide backup during conflicts. Meanwhile, males compete with one another to establish dominance.

#15. Patas Monkey

  • Erythrocebus patas

Also known as the Wadi Monkey or Hussar Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally 61-89 cm (24-35 in) long and have 51-76 cm (20-30 in) tails.
  • Males are much larger than females.
  • White hair frames their dark faces. They have pale coats that grow reddish brown around their backs.

Patas Monkeys aren’t your average monkey in the Middle East that lives in trees!

Instead, they are ground-dwellers known for their impressive speed. Patas Monkeys are the fastest sprinters among primates, clocking in at 55 km/h (34 mph). They roam savannahs where trees are sparse and widely spaced.

Troops of Patas Monkeys can contain up to 60 members, with only one adult male leading the females and juveniles. At night, they sleep together in trees where predators can’t reach them. Sometimes, they must boldly fight off wildcats and jackals at watering holes!

Since they live in arid habitats, they spend a lot of time finding food and water. These monkeys like to feed on sap leaking out from Acacia tree trunks. Where their territories encroach with human settlements, they’ve acquired a taste for farm crops.

For more information about animals in the Middle East, check out these guides:

Which of these monkeys in the Middle East is your favorite?

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