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Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Previously I argued that prioritizing farmers’ concerns, priorities, and understandings of human-wildlife interactions was central to developing effective human-wildlife conflict (HWC) mitigation, presupposing that HWC is about the costs of coexisting with wildlife. Further experience and the wider literature suggest this is not always true. Identifying and addressing underlying and unresolved tensions among different stakeholder groups is increasingly recognized as key to managing HWCs. However, terms like “HWC” or “crop-raiding” obscure the nature of, and appropriate responses to, such “conflicts.” Additionally, we should recognize how culturally constructed, symbolic meanings of animals feed into discourse around “conflicts” and conservation. Competing constructions of animals reflect different agendas, perspectives, and values, which all contribute to “conflicts” around wildlife.
Human-wildlife conflict often arises from crop-raiding, and insights regarding which aspects of raiding events determine crop loss are essential when developing and evaluating deterrents. However, because accounts of crop-raiding behaviour are frequently indirect, these parameters are rarely quantified or explicitly linked to crop damage. Using systematic observations of the behaviour of non-human primates on farms in western Uganda, this research identifies number of individuals raiding and duration of raid as the primary parameters determining crop loss. Secondary factors include distance travelled onto farm, age composition of the raiding group, and whether raids are in series. Regression models accounted for greater proportions of variation in crop loss when increasingly crop and species specific. Parameter values varied across primate species, probably reflecting differences in raiding tactics or perceptions of risk, and thereby providing indices of how comfortable primates are on-farm. Median raiding-group sizes were markedly smaller than the typical sizes of social groups. The research suggests that key parameters of raiding events can be used to measure the behavioural impacts of deterrents to raiding. Furthermore, farmers will benefit most from methods that discourage raiding by multiple individuals, reduce the size of raiding groups, or decrease the amount of time primates are on-farm. This study demonstrates the importance of directly relating crop loss to the parameters of raiding events, using systematic observations of the behaviour of multiple primate species.
We describe the behavior of a previously unstudied community of wild chimpanzees during opportunistic encounters with researchers in an unprotected forest-farm mosaic at Bulindi, Uganda. Data were collected during 115 encounters between May 2006 and January 2008. Individual responses were recorded during the first minute of visual contact. The most common responses were -œignore- for arboreal chimpanzees and -œmonitor- for terrestrial individuals. Chimpanzees rarely responded with -œflight-. Adult males were seen disproportionately often relative to adult females, and accounted for 90% of individual responses recorded for terrestrial animals. Entire encounters were also categorized based on the predominant response of the chimpanzee party to researcher proximity. The most frequent encounter type was -œignore- (36%), followed by -œmonitor- (21%), -œintimidation- (18%) and -œstealthy retreat- (18%). -œIntimidation- encounters occurred when chimpanzees were contacted in dense forest where visibility was low, provoking intense alarm and agitation. Adult males occasionally acted together to repel researchers through aggressive mobbing and pursuit. Chimpanzee behavior during encounters reflects the familiar yet frequently agonistic relationship between apes and local people at Bulindi. The chimpanzees are not hunted but experience high levels of harassment from villagers. Human-directed aggression by chimpanzees may represent a strategy to accommodate regular disruptions to foraging effort arising from competitive encounters with people both in and outside forest. Average encounter duration and proportion of encounters categorized as -œignore- increased over time, whereas -œintimidation- encounters decreased, indicating some habituation occurred during the study. Ecotourism aimed at promoting tolerance of wildlife through local revenue generation is one possible strategy for conserving great apes on public or private land. However, the data imply that habituating chimpanzees for viewing-based ecotourism in heavily human-dominated landscapes, such as Bulindi, is ill-advised since a loss of fear of humans could lead to increased negative interactions with local people. Am. J. Primatol. Am. J. Primatol. 72:907-918, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Nonhuman primates (referred to as primates in this study) are sometimes revered as gods, abhorred as evil spirits, killed for food because they damage crops, or butchered for sport. Primates' perceived similarity to humans places them in an anomalous position. While some human groups accept the idea that primates -œstraddle- the human-nonhuman boundary, for others this resemblance is a violation of the human-animal divide. In this study we use two case studies to explore how people's perceptions of primates are often influenced by these animals' apparent similarity to humans, creating expectations, founded within a -œhuman morality- about how primates should interact with people. When animals transgress these social rules, they are measured against the same moral framework as humans. This has implications for how people view and respond to certain kinds of primate behaviors, their willingness to tolerate co-existence with primates and their likely support for primate conservation initiatives. Am. J. Primatol. 72:919-924, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.