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Nine-year-old Makakuna Yaki writes history – Japanese snow monkeys got their first alpha female

677 Japanese macaques are now led by an alpha female. After a nine-year-old Yaki challenged a male Alpha Sancho, now for the first time in the history of the nature reserve there is a matriarchal system in Japan’s Takasakiyama.

A female lead a herd of monkeys is an unusual phenomenon in the primate world. Now nine-year-old Makakunan Yaki is writing history, when she took command of a group of several hundred monkeys on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan.

Yaki’s path to the top began in April, when she scratched her mother to become the highest ranked female in the herd. But she wasn’t happy with it, according to the Guardian. Yaki aims for the ultimate pinnacle: the 31-year-old Sancho Alpha, who has led the herd for five years.

In June, she successfully challenged Sancho to a showdown. Then the reserve’s rangers found through a so-called “peanut test” – when nuts are laid out to see who eats first – surprisingly showing that yaki had come to power.

The crushed Sancho retreated and let the nine-year-old female take the first coveted walnuts.

“Since then, Yakei has been climbing and rocking trees, which is an expression of strength and unusual female behavior,” says Takasakiyama guide. Satoshi Kimoto Even the Guardian.

The newly designated alpha female has also adopted the habit of wagging her tail, which is also described as rare for female macaques.

Takasakiyama is home to around 1,500 Japanese macaques divided into two different herds that move freely on the reserve’s lush mountain slopes. Japanese snow monkeys are known for their love of immersion in hot springs, which is especially common among the macaques in Nagano Prefecture.

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The Japanese macaque, snow macaque or snow monkey (Macaca fuscata) is one of the primates in the genus Macaque. It has the far northern distribution of all primates, with the exception of humans.

Japanese macaques are found on the islands of Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku. Groups have been provided shelters in several different reserves and they can live there without the risk of extinction.

As a species, the snow monkey has had a long time to adapt to the cold climate. It was found many centuries ago on all the Japanese islands, but as more areas turned into arable land, it was pushed into the mountains where it learned to survive and winter.

The macaques of the Nagano region are particularly famous for swimming in the hot springs. Researchers have long assumed they jumped into this disorder because of the cold, but in 2018 a study found that they also take a bath to relax. Monkeys’ stress hormone levels drop by about 20 percent after a dive.