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School of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Phone number: +44 (0)1865 484938
I have been the Lab Technician for the Primate Conservation MSc since 2010. I am an active research member of the Nocturnal Primate Research Group and the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group, both based here at Oxford Brookes University. My research mainly focuses on the nocturnal primates of Africa and the Neotropics. I am also interested in wildlife trade research, including monitoring the illegal trade in ivory and pangolins but also in primates.
Social media is known to influence consumers’ attitudes and to increase demand for wild animalsas pets, when depicted online. We investigate the online presence of the nocturnal primates gala-gos, on TikTok and Instagram, and its influence on followers’ attitudes and desire to keep galagosas pets. We monitored activity June – December 2020 and conducted sentiment analysis on 21976comments. We assessed trends in Google searches and estimated the international trade of livegalagos using CITES reports. Post views increased up to 472% within the study period. Posts weremostly from Japan, Thailand, and Russia, with comments in 43 different languages. Of the com-ments, 95% were positive, e.g., “cute” and “I want one”. Google searches of the term “galago pet”increased over time, as did the number of live galagos exported. Southeast Asia is having a boomin exotic pet trade. Viral videos of other nocturnal primates previously led to increased demand forpets, and we hope our findings provide data to guide policy and conservation intervention
Our understanding of the transmission of anthropozoonotic diseases between humans and non-human primates, particularly great apes due to their close genetic relationship with humans, highlights a serious potential threat to the survival of these species. This is particularly the case at tourism sites where risk of disease transmission is increased. We focus on the interaction between tourists and the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) at Bukit Lawang in the Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia, before and after the park was closed due to the threat of COVID-19 in April 2020. Through analysis of posts on Instagram we determine the extent of compliance by visitors with the rule to keep a minimum distance of 10 m from orangutans and assess the positional behaviours of the orangutans. Of the 2,229 photographs we assessed between November 2019 and July 2020, 279 depicted one or more orangutans. Forty-two of these contained both a human and an orangutan, and of these all showed inappropriate behaviours (direct contact, feeding orangutans, close proximity <5 m) providing direct evidence of non-compliance with the 10-m distance rule. Most of these photographs additionally showed orangutans performing abnormal positional behaviours such as being low to or on the ground rather than their natural high position in the canopy; being near the ground and in close proximity to humans increases the risk of anthropozoonotic disease transmission. As expected, we found a significant decrease in number of photographs that were posted following the closure, and a decrease in the proportion of photographs that showed orangutans, or tourists feeding orangutans. Tourists do not seem to perceive that they pose risks to the orangutans and therefore increased awareness, education and enforcement of rules by all stakeholders, tourism bodies and government officials need to be actioned in order to safeguard this important population, which is crucial to the future survival of the Sumatran orangutan.
In January 2021, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Primate Specialist Group Section for Human Primate Interactions (IUCN PSG SHPI) published best practice guidelines on the use of non-human primate imagery online. This paper explores the contribution of professional primate keepers to the detrimental online sharing of images involving humans and primates, and their knowledge and opinions towards this subject. A total of 421 primate keepers responded to an online questionnaire shared in March 2021, providing information about their use of primate imagery on social media platforms and sharing their understanding of scientific studies on this topic. Over half (56%) of primate keepers admitted to sharing images online of themselves and primates, that could be considered irresponsible. A complementary review of posts shared on Instagram™ under the hashtag #primatekeeper revealed that 64% of 128 images surveyed depicted primates in situations which prior research has shown to have negative consequences for primate conservation, in addition to affecting the way the public perceives the conservation status of species in such imagery. Of the respondents, 53% had not heard of the IUCN PSG SHPI, and 67% of primate keepers were unaware of the new guidelines published by the group. It is recommended that the best practice guidelines are disseminated to zookeepers directly through appropriate forums to ensure primate keepers are acting in line with the recommendations in the best practice guidelines, and that further research is conducted regarding human-primate two-shot images to better guide decisions made by primatologists and others working both in and ex situ with primates.
Pig-tailed macaques are used by coconut farmers in Southeast Asia to harvest coconuts. We assessed the welfare of northern pig-tailed macaques Macaca leonina involved in coconut harvesting in southern Thailand. We interviewed 89 coconut farmers in three provinces focusing on quantifying basic demographics of this trade, i.e., species, where the macaques were sourced, diet, sex, and age. Independent from the interviews, we assessed the welfare of 158 working macaques through direct observations using the ‘five domains’ criteria. Based on our scoring system, the mean welfare score of 4.8 out of the maximum 12 points indicates a need for improvement. Overall, we found good agreement between the interviews data and the welfare assessments. The most important individual welfare modifications required for working macaques to obtain a good level of welfare that benefits both the farmers and macaques include: providing access to conspecifics, adding opportunities to hide from stressors, and increasing the freedom of movement. This study highlights the individual welfare concerns and necessity of legislative changes regarding working macaques and other working animals of wild origins.
Primates are traded yearly in the tens of thousands for reasons such as biomedical research, as trophies and pets, for consumption and to be used in traditional medicine. In many cases, this trade is illegal, unsustainable and considered a major impediment to primate conservation. Diurnal primates make up the vast majority of this trade, but recent studies have found that the trade in nocturnal primates is more common than previously thought, and among them are the galagos. There are currently 19 galagos recognized but there is still a dearth of research on these species and subspecies. The purpose of our study was to provide a more comprehensive picture of the trade in galagos within and across their African range countries, to help determine whether it is illegal or its sustainability needs to be assessed, and to provide baseline data and management recommendations to better regulate this trade, including strengthening policy, enforcement and conservation interventions. We gathered information on trade and use of galagos using an online questionnaire (May–August 2020), and on country-specific legislation relating to wildlife trade, hunting and legal protection of galagos, and looked at each range country’s Corruption Perception Index score to gain an understanding of the obstacles in the way of effective law enforcement. We received 140 responses to our online questionnaire, from 31 of the 39 galago range countries. Respondents from 16 of these countries reported on first-hand observations of galagos being traded or used. Out of these, 36% reported seeing galagos sold or used for consumption, 33% as pets and 25% had observed them sold or used for traditional practices (including medical and magical purposes and for witchcraft). Most reports came from West Africa followed by Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. We found that the number of reports on galagos being traded was higher in countries with higher numbers of galago species. Countries with more restrictive legislation experienced a higher number of reports of trade. Galagos observed in the pet trade was more common in East Africa, whilst reports of them in the bushmeat trade were more common in Central and West Africa. Galagos observed in the trade for traditional practices was by far most common from West Africa. We found that all galago range countries have some level of legal protection for some or all of their native galago species. It is evident that use and trade of galagos occurs throughout their range, albeit localized to certain areas. We urge galago range countries to adequately protect all species and to ensure legal trade is effectively regulated. Range countries that prohibit the use and trade in galagos must ensure legislation is adequately enforced. Further research into the drivers behind the use and trade of galagos should be initiated in countries with high levels of use and trade to further inform conservation and policy actions and to catalyze enforcement actions against poaching and illegal trade.
1. Mountain gorilla Gorilla beringei beringei trekking is a substantial source of revenue for the conservation of this threatened primate and its habitat. Trekking, however, may pose a threat of human-to-gorilla disease transmission that could have disastrous effects on wild gorillas.
2. We used 858 photographs posted on Instagram in 2013–2019 to analyse the proximity of tourists visiting mountain gorillas in the wild. We classified photographs of the encounters according to the distance between the closest gorilla and human, the age class of the gorilla, the trekking location and presence of a surgical face mask on the tourist. We ran a generalised linear mixed model to test whether these variables influenced the distance between the human and the wild gorillas in the photographs, and to test whether these distances have changed over time.
3. Most sampled photographs (86%) showed tourists within a critical 4 m of the gorillas, with 25 incidents of physical contact between a tourist and a gorilla, and only 3% at the recommended distance of 7 m or more. We only were able to record face mask use in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where these were present in 65% of uploaded photos.
4. Tourists and immature gorillas tended to get closer to each other than tourists and adult gorillas, and this is more pronounced in female tourists than male tourists. The mean distance between human and wild gorillas decreased by ~1 m between 2013 and 2019.
5. The results indicate that existing rules are not enforced and raise attention to this unsustainable aspect of mountain gorilla trekking as it is practiced today. These ever-growing tourist attractions in the range countries pose risks of disease transmission in both directions between tourists and wildlife. The popularity of photograph-based social media may stimulate closer contacts and influence people into risky behaviours.
6. We advocate the establishment and reinforcement of regulations relating to the distance between animals and tourists in any in situ wildlife ecotourism context,as well as campaigns to raise awareness regarding the risks of anthroponosis, and fines applied in case of non-compliance.
Understanding the repertoire of hunting techniques used by traditional peoples in tropical forests is crucial for recognizing the role of traditional knowledge in hunting activities, as well as assessing the impact of harvests on game species. We describe the hunting techniques used across Amazonia by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples for hunting yellow-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis denticulatus), one of the most consumed species in the biome. We interviewed 178 local people in 25 communities living in seven study areas in the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. We used a Principal Coordinate Analysis (PCoA) and Analysis of Similarity (ANOSIM) to compare the hunting techniques between ethnic groups and the ages of the interviewees. Four different techniques were reported: (1) trapping with bait (46%; n = 122); (2) hunting with dogs (35%; n = 92); (3) active searching (14 %; n = 37); and (4) visiting fruiting trees (5%; n = 14). Trapping with bait was alleged to be the most cost-effective technique by 67% of the interviewees. Among the baits used, 93% involved the use of wild species as rotten meat. Hunting with dogs was also frequently cited and involved eight different methods of training. The hunting techniques recorded were not significantly different among ethnic groups or generations. The consonance among the technique repertoire likely reflects a shared knowledge still in use across different cultural groups. There is a potential for applying the hunting techniques to large scale community-based monitoring and management programs, but the impact on additional species affected, such as species intentionally captured to be used as bait, should be considered. Local assessments and community-based management plans that incorporate traditional ecological knowledge are recommended to guarantee the maintenance of livelihoods and ensure the species' conservation in Amazonia.
Seizures of hundreds of jaguar heads and canines in Central and South America from 2014 to 2018 resulted in worldwide media coverage suggesting that wildlife traffickers are trading jaguar body parts as substitutes for tiger parts to satisfy the demand for traditional Asian medicine. We compiled a data set of >1000 seized wild cats (jaguar [Panthera onca], puma [Puma concolor], and ocelot [Leopardus pardalis]) from 19 Central and South American countries and China. We ran generalized additive mixed models to detect trends in wild-cat seizures from 2012 to 2018 and assess the effects of socioeconomic factors of source countries and between those countries and China on the number of wild cats seized. Jaguar seizures increased over time, and most of the seized jaguar pieces were canines (1991 of 2117). Around 34% (32 of 93) of the jaguar-part seizure reports were linked with China, and these seizures contained 14-fold more individuals than those intended for domestic markets. Source countries with relatively high levels of corruption and Chinese private investment and low income per capita had 10-50 times more jaguar seizures than the remaining sampled countries. The number of Chinese residents in Central and South America was not significantly related to the number of jaguars seized. No socioeconomic factors influenced the seizures of puma and ocelots. Legal market chains may provide structure for the illegal chain; thus, the influx of illegal jaguar products is potentially a side effect of the economic partnership between Central and South American countries and China. Poverty and high levels of corruption in the source countries may motivate local people to engage in illegal activities and contribute to the growth of this trade. Supply-side interventions to curb this threat to Neotropical wild cats may include improved training for officials and promotion of governance and the value of protecting these animals to local people.
Vocalizations are a vital form of communication. Call structure and use may change depending on emotional arousal, behavioral context, sex, or social complexity. Pithecia chrysocephala (golden-faced sakis) are a little-studied Neotropical species. We aimed to determine the vocal repertoire of P. chrysocephala and the influence of context on call structure. We collected data June–August 2018 in an urban secondary forest fragment in Manaus, Amazonian Brazil. We took continuous vocal recordings in 10-min blocks with 5-min breaks during daily follows of two groups. We recorded scan samples of group behavior at the start and end of blocks and used ad libitum behavioral recording during blocks. We collected 70 h of data and analyzed 1500 calls. Lowest frequencies ranged 690.1–5879 Hz in adults/subadults and 5393.6–9497.8Hz in the only juvenile sampled. We identified eight calls, three of which were juvenile specific. We found that, while repertoire size was similar to that of other New World monkeys of similar group size and structure, it also resembled those with larger group sizes and different social structures. The durations of Chuck calls were shorter for feeding contexts compared to hostile, but frequencies were higher than predicted if call structure reflects motivation. This finding may be due to the higher arousal involved in hostile situations, or because P. chrysocephala use Chuck calls in appeasement, similar to behavior seen in other primates. Call structures did not differ between sexes, potentially linked to the limited size dimorphism in this species. Our findings provide a foundation for further investigation of Pithecia vocal behavior and phylogeny, as well as applications for both captive welfare (stress relief) and field research (playbacks for surveys).
Stone tools in the prehistoric record are the most abundant source of evidence for understanding early hominin technological and cultural variation. The field of primate archaeology is well placed to improve our scientific knowledge by using the tool behaviours of living primates as models to test hypotheses related to the adoption of tools by early stone-age hominins. Previously we have shown that diversity in stone tool behaviour between neighbouring groups of long-tailed macaques (Macaca-fascicularis) could be explained by ecological and environmental circumstances (Luncz et al., 2017b). Here however, we report archaeological evidence, which shows that the selection and reuse of tools cannot entirely be explained by ecological diversity. These results suggest that tool-use may develop differently within species of old-world monkeys, and that the evidence of material culture can differ within the same timeframe at local geographic scales and in spite of shared environmental and ecological settings.
Like other nocturnal primates, many species of galago (Galagidae) are phenotypically cryptic, making their taxonomic status difficult to resolve. Recent taxonomic work has disentangled some of the confusion. This has resulted in an increase in the number of recognised galago species. The most widespread galago species, and indeed the most widespread nocturnal primate, is the northern lesser galago (Galago senegalensis) whose geographic range stretches >7,000 km across Africa. Based on morphology, 4 subspecies are currently recognised: G. s. senegalensis, G. s. braccatus, G. s. sotikae and G. s. dunni. We explore geographic and subspecific acoustic variation in G. senegalensis, testing three hypotheses: isolation by distance, genetic basis, and isolation by barrier. There is statistical support for isolation by distance for 2 of 4 call parameters (fundamental frequency and unit length). Geographic distance explains a moderate amount of the acoustic variation. Discriminant function analysis provides some degree of separation of geographic regions and subspecies, but the percentage of misdesignation is high. Despite having (putative) parapatric geographic ranges, the most pronounced acoustic differences are between G. s. senegalensis and G. s. dunni. The findings suggest that the Eastern Rift Valley and Niger River are significant barriers for G. senegalensis. The acoustic structures of the loud calls of 121 individuals from 28 widespread sites are not significantly different. Although this makes it unlikely that additional unrecognised species occur within G. senegalensis at the sites sampled, vast areas of the geographic range remain unsampled. We show that wide-ranging species do not necessarily exhibit large amounts of variation in their vocal repertoire. This pattern may also be present in nocturnal primates with smaller geographic ranges.
Comparative behavioural research reveals both intra- and inter-species diversity among primates. Few long-term behavioural studies have been conducted on African nocturnal primates. Here we describe and compare behavioural and ecological observations on two species of pottos (Perodicticus ibeanus and P. edwardsi) across ten sites. We observed a total of 51 P. edwardsi and 28 P. ibeanus. We recorded all 21 postures within an established lorisid ethogram, as well as 42 of 50 behaviours. Eating, locomotion, freezing, resting and sniffing were the most common behaviours. We recorded behaviours not previously described for perodicticines, including bark chewing and unique vocalisations. Three species of pottos are now recognised, with potentially more species to be revealed within this cryptic and nocturnal genus. Although there are similarities among potto species, we show that unique ecological adaptations and behaviours may further elucidate their diversity.
Studies on the behaviour of the African lorisiforms are scarce, but there are clear morphological, ecological and behavioural differences between the robust pottos (Perodicticus spp.) and the smaller, gracile angwantibos (Arctocebus spp.). Pottos have a wide distribution across the African rainforest zone, while angwantibos are restricted to the forests of western equatorial Africa. African lorisiforms are not as obviously gregarious as some of their diurnal primate relatives and have thus often been described as solitary animals. This description does not mean these animals do not exhibit any social behaviour – as Charles-Dominique (1977a) wrote, solitary is not the opposite of social, but of gregarious. Indeed, increased research attention and improved methods have slowly revealed an extensive repertoire of nocturnal primate social behaviour. In this chapter, we review existing research on social behaviour, mating and parental care, feeding and food acquisition, as well as positional and defensive behaviour in pottos and angwantibos. We also highlight their major differences and recommend areas for future research.
Scientific investigations on the mammals of Angola started over 150 years ago, but information remains scarce and scattered, with only one recent published account. Here we provide a synthesis of the mammals of Angola based on a thorough survey of primary and grey literature, as well as recent unpublished records. We present a short history of mammal research, and provide brief information on each species known to occur in the country. Particular attention is given to endemic and near endemic species. We also provide a zoogeographic outline and information on the conservation of Angolan mammals. We found confirmed records for 291 native species, most of which from the orders Rodentia (85), Chiroptera (73), Carnivora (39), and Cetartiodactyla (33). There is a large number of endemic and near endemic species, most of which are rodents or bats. The large diversity of species is favoured by the wide range of habitats with contrasting environmental conditions, while endemism tends to be associated with unique physiographic settings such as the Angolan Escarpment. The mammal fauna of Angola includes 2 Critically Endangered, 2 Endangered, 11 Vulnerable, and 14 Near-Threatened species at the global scale. There are also 12 data deficient species, most of which are endemics or near endemics to the country.
A series of recent studies have documented instances of IWT online in several African countries, predominantly on classified/ listings platforms. This trade can be difficult to regulate due to the anonymity that the internet provides sellers and the fact that legislation relating to wildlife has often been written to prevent wildlife trade in physical markets rather than online markets. The Strengthening Law Enforcement Capacity and Collaboration (SLECC) project implemented by TRAFFIC aims to support Cameroon’s efforts to reduce the ability of criminal groups to carry out illegal wildlife trade. One of the project’s objectives is to help monitor, detect, and analyse cybercrime involving IWT for law enforcement action. As part of this project, this study set out to better understand the dynamics of online IWT in Cameroon and other Central African countries to provide information and interception strategies for law enforcement action and policies. Our research team included Nigeria in the survey due to its proximity to Cameroon and other Central African countries and its known role as a trading hub for wildlife.
Despite a large geographic distribution, the African nocturnal perodicticines, pottos (Perodicticus) and angwantibos (Arctocebus ) remain amongst the least studied primate taxa. Only two one-year field studies have been conducted on pottos, with only circumstantial data onangwantibos, coming from field data on shot animals. Through a meta-analysis, based on published literature and unpublished reports, we here review recent skeletal and genetic evidence that point to five species, and indicate far more diversity: Perodicticus potto, P. Ibeanus, P. edwardsi, Arctocebus aureus, A. calabarensis. Pelage colour, dorsal markings and tail characteristics (for pottos) supplement the genetic data that suggest these comprise distinct taxa. Arctocebus ranges from Nigeria and Cameroon in the north to Gabon and Congo in the south, whilst Perodicticus is more widespread, having a combined distribution that encompasses a large portion of central and western Africa. Despite this large range, only nine surveys with any substantial effort have been published in the last twenty years from only five range countries; two re-ported new taxa (P. p. stockleyi and P. p. juju). Although not included in abundance counts,pottos frequently appear in bushmeat reports throughout their range, suggesting this is a realthreat to this cryptic, easy-to-catch primate. Despite an almost complete dearth of knowledgeabout these taxa, all perodicticine taxa are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Least Concern, with, contradictorily, only the reasonably studied P. p. stockleyi as Data Deficient. The situation of these primates is mirrored in zoos. No Arctocebus are kept in European zoos, with only 17 Perodicticus in ISIS institutions. Their taxonomy is uncertain, breeding rates are poor and infant mortality is high. Clearly the perodictines offer an open frontier for both in situ and ex situ studies. We certainly do not have the data to assess their conservation status yet.
Online trade in nocturnal primates