The National Research Council of the Philippines’ (NRCP) funded research program on long-tailed macaques featured in a wildlife documentary TV show, Born to Be Wild.


A resident of New Israel, Makilala, North Cotabato, one of the National Research Council of the Philippines study sites, gives food to a macaque in the street. (Photo Source: GMA Born to Be Wild)

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) commonly known as matsing or unggoy are Old World Monkeys and the only monkey species in the Philippines based on the article by Ong and Richardson, published in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Macaques are known to successfully occupy a variety of natural habitats including rainforest, freshwater and marine coastal areas, and even along forest edges, which places them in close proximity to human settlements.

Born to Be Wild documentary Primate Planet premiered last April 11, 2022, shows the life of macaques in Banton, Romblon and New Israel Makilala, North Cotabato, one of the study sites of NRCP Human-Macaque Interface (HUMAIN) Program led by Program Leader Lief Erikson D. Gamalo, member of NRCP Division of Biological Sciences, and faculty at the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

In the documentary, residents in North Cotabato warmly welcome and freely give food to the macaques. But, this is not the case in Romblon. Human-macaque conflict in Romblon is now considered a serious problem because they persistently pose greater threats to the livelihood of the community.

2Lief Erikson Gamalo, MSc, NRCP-HUMAIN Program Leader talks about the macaques in Makilala, North Cotabato.

A year before the said TV documentary premiered, NRCP has started in April 2021 the scientific investigation on the human – macaques’ relationship in various places in Mindanao through the basic research titled “HUMAIN: Mitigation of Conflicts and Zoonosis in Human - Modified Habitats of Hindang, Leyte, and Makilala, North Cotabato”.

The said basic research project aims to identify the macaque’s diet, estimate the prevalence and intensity of parasite fauna infections. zoonosis transmission of diseases (from macaques to local residents), gather environmental samples, and determine the association of the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites with the forest confined macaque troops and those associated with humans.

With the HUMAIN Project, the NRCP is confident to come up with substantive data that will finally unlock the solutions to this worsening ecological problems and provide holistic policy recommendations benefitting both the primate species and the people/community. e, Local ordinances may include, enhanced public awareness and conservation strategies for these primates and their habitats.

A mini-version of the documentary, specifically focuses on the macaques in Makilala, North Cotabato, can be watched at Meanwhile, full episode of the documentary is accessible at Jenny Leigh Daquioag, Scientific Documentation Officer II