Just along from O’Hara’s Battery on your Gibraltar rock tour is the upper Ape’s Den. Here you will see a large number of Barbary Macaques, the only free roaming primates in Europe and along with the Japanese Macaques. They are also the only macaques outside Asia, making them a very curious resident on top of an otherwise very serene lump of limestone rock.
At first they were deemed to be apes because they have stocky bodies, no tails and spend more time on land than on trees. But in fact, they are monkeys, owing to the way they walk on all fours rather than on their knuckles and that they cannot swing from branch to branch like gibbons.
As part of Gibraltar semi-private tours you will see the human ancestors eating from the food provided by natural park keepers or playing together. There always tends to be a large variety of different ages at this stage of the Gibraltar tours, making it an enjoyable experience which your driver will expertly guide you through. These playful creatures are so much like humans it is uncanny, and their evolutionary significance is notable.
They are very clever and curious too, so watch your bags because they will take them off you when you least expect it, especially if they can smell food. How they arrived on the Rock is a mystery but it is most probable they were brought over by merchants who arrived here from their native Altas and Rif mountains in Morocco.
In their packs, macaques are matriarchal, with the males helping out to bring the young. Members of a pack, that can number from ten to 100, share the parenting process, with males mating with each other within the social grouping as opposed to keeping one partner throughout their life. That might explain a few things in human beings!
Unfortunately, Barbary macaques are currently an endangered species in Morocco and Algeria, with their habitat threatened by logging and extermination. Numbers continue to fall, although in Gibraltar they have continued to thrive in stable conditions, to the point that occasionally some are transported abroad.
Just below beside is the SkyWalk, officially opened by the Luke Skywalker himself. Walk off the edge of the cliff with nothing but a transparent sheet of reinforced glass. Although not for the faint-hearted, this is truly a thrilling experience!