The Makaka is a small ape of Nybelmar, which has been imported to Sarvonia via Avennorian trade ships and become a popular pet with many sailors of these trading routes. Among Sarvonian humans, they are also known as "elf whelps" for their sharply pointed ears and long slim fingers. This is not considered amusing to the elven populations in Sarvonia.
Makakas are small attractive primates. An adult male is usually about a
fore tall and approximately
1 and ½ hebs in weight,
while the females are slightly smaller. Both genders have soft thick fur, which
comes in a range of colours - dark to light grey and brown in all shades from
ochre to cinnabrown. Females
tend to be grey, while males are more typically brown, though this is not
absolute. A few very rare individuals may be black or white. No matter what
their colour, Makakas usually have paler bellies and chests, where the fur is
slightly less thick. They do not have fur on their faces, ears, or the palms of
their feet and hands, merely a pinkish-grey leathery skin. Like most monkeys,
their ears are found on the side of their heads. However, rather than the
typical round projections such as the capou-capou
possess, the Makaka's ears are swept back into long graceful points like those
of an elf. Their dark brown eyes are very large
and deep-set, while their muzzles are quite short with very sharp teeth, which
are black in colour.
Unlike other primates, the Makakas have only three toes on each paw, although otherwise the forepaws strongly resemble elven hands, with very long slender fingers. On the hind feet, they have sharp short claws. Although makakas generally move on all fours, they have longer arms, leading to an odd rocking gait which is nonetheless extremely fast. They are quite agile and even graceful in the trees, being both arboreal and terrestrial animals. Makakas have no tails. Their name is thought to derive from the sharp, piercing, warning cry they emit when startled or frightened. Normally they "speak" in soft burbles, grunts, or chirruping sounds.
Makakas are highly adaptable to many different climates, though they seem to
prefer a temperate to cool area. Their fur is slightly oily, which gives it some
waterproofing protection. This oil will soften and moisturize dry or wrinkled
skin, a recent dicovery which has dramatically increased the popularity of this
little animal as a trade item (see Usages, below).
As a group, the Makakas are surprisingly formidable fighters, very quick and savage.
Territory. The natural habitat of the Makaka appears to be mountain country, for they can be found throughout the mountain ranges of Nybelmar. Wild Makakas do exist in Sarvonia, albeit very rarely, for they are not native to this continent, unused to the predators, and do not seem to thrive here, though they do very well in captivity, existing as pets or menagerie animals from Northern Sarvonia to Aeruillin.
Habitat/Behaviour. As with most Monkey species, Makakas are highly social animals and live in large groups of between 30 to 50 individuals. They spend a lot of time grooming each other and playing together. Swimming is also an activity they enjoy, particularly the younger ones.
Makakas have a strictly ordered pack hierarchy, which is matriarchical in nature. The oldest mature female functions as leader, disciplinarian, and overall authority, while the males, as a group, are the pack protectors. Although the Makakas are usually gentle, non-aggressive animals, this does not apply to their defensive abilities. If a larger predator, such as a lingra cat, attacks them, the males will viciously counterattack in groups, throwing stones, hitting with sticks, or simply using their teeth and back claws. Their speed and ferocity then is well-nigh unbelievable. Most predators, if they are fortunate enough to survive, will not chance a second encounter. However, a solitary Makaka that may have strayed too far from the group is relatively easy prey.
Diet. The Makakas subsist on a largely vegetarian diet, with plants such as the strangling or sweetsip vine, and pine needles from the cinnabark, sahnrix, and other evergreens comprising a large part of their food. They love fruits and nuts of almost any variety, such as the faberige fruits, melons, mutnuts, acorns, and so on. They also enjoy most edible fungi, and will occasionally eat grubs or small insects as well.
Mating. In a Makaka group, there are usually about twice as many females as males. The females come into heat once every two moons, unless pregnant or lactating, and mate frequently and indiscriminately with any available male for a period of about three days, after which they appear to lose interest until the next heat period. Babies are born after a gestation period of about 20-22 weeks. The Makaka mother usually bears twins, which she will nurse for about six months, after which they begin to eat regular food. They reach adulthood by about two years of age, though they continue to grow in size for another couple of years.
Usages. As mentioned before, Makakas are most well known as pets. Although their meat is edible, it tends to be tough and strong-flavoured. There is a small but expanding market for their fur due to its attractive look and waterproofing quality. The oils in their fur, much like those found in sheepskin, will soften dry or elderly human skin. Recently the perfume and beauty business, "Red-Lysh Lovescents", in New-Santhala, has taken to marketing "Makaka Beauty Cream". Brean Helora and Aescula Onguentus, the proprietors, have purchased several breeding pairs of Makakas and they say the demand is such that they are looking to acquire more.
Myth/Lore. There is a story told among the Korweynite people that the Makaka are the result of a battle between human mages and the Chyrakisth. The mages won, and to punish the Chyrakisth for their attack, tried to turn them all into rats. But because the Chyrakisth are inherently magical, the mages' magic was warped and the orcs/elves became ape-like creatures, retaining their elven ears and slender hands, but also their savage fangs and vicious fighting ability, while they shrank down and developed thick coats of fur.
The Zhunite people also have a saying that someone or something "...fights like a Makaka pack" or "Savage as a Makaka pack".