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Crop protection and conflict mitigation: reducing the costs of living alongside non-human primates


7 July 2012 Science News

 

Crop protection and conflict mitigation: reducing the costs of living alongside non-human primates

Biodiversity and Conservation | Catherine Hill & Graham Wallace | July 2012

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Conflict between farmers and primates increasingly impacts conservation efforts in Africa and Asia. Field crops provide a reliable and readily-accessible source of food for primates coping with habitat loss. However, crop-raiding undermines food security and tolerance of wildlife within neighbouring human communities. Many primates consume crops regularly yet there are few accounts of systematic evaluation of techniques to deter them. Working in partnership with farmers, this study was  conducted over two growing seasons within four villages adjacent to the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda. Using systematic observational sampling, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups, we (i) monitored primate crop-raiding behaviour prior to and after installing locally-appropriate deterrents, developed with local farmers, and (ii) explored farmers’ initial responses to the methods trialled. Deterrent efficacy was assessed by comparing the frequency and characteristics of raiding events across seasons. Primates were the predominant diurnal crop-raiders; six species were observed raiding. Deterrents implemented included barriers, alarms, repellents, and systematic guarding. Incidence of raiding and crop loss decreased in almost all cases, often by shifting raiding to unprotected fields or adjacent farms. Farmers identified benefits and shortcomings for each deterrent, and considered most to be effective and valuable. Insights from the research directly inform intervention strategies to address crop-raiding issues and extend options to mitigate human–wildlife conflict.

 

Hill CM, Wallace GE (2012). Crop protection and conflict mitigation: reducing the costs of living alongside non-human primates. Biodiversity and Conservation 21: 2569-2587.

 

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