Crop raiding patterns of solitary and social groups of red-tailed monkeys on cocoa pods in Uganda

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2012-06-19

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Abstract

Crop damage by wildlife is a very prevalent form of human-wildlife conflict adjacent to protected areas, and great economic losses from crop raiding impede efforts to protect wildlife. Management plans are needed to decrease damage by raiding wildlife, yet conservation biologists typically lack the basic information needed for informed conservation strategies. Red-tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius) raid a variety of crops adjacent to protected forests in East Africa; however, the role of group structure on crop raiding has not been explored. Here, crop raiding patterns of solitary males and social groups were investigated during 10 months in a plantation of mature cocoa in Uganda. Monkeys gained access to the plantation via trees planted as wind breaks and shade trees, and the sighting frequency of groups was negatively related to the distance from the forest edge. In contrast, solitary males were sighted more frequently far from the forest edge and caused proportionately greater damage than members raiding in a social group. These results highlight that for social animals, crop raiding behavior can vary among types of social groupings; appropriate strategies to cope with raiding must therefore respond to this variation. Deborah Baranga, G. Isabirye Basuta, Julie A. Teichroeb, and Colin A. Chapman.

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