While a broad range of definitions is used for “human-wildlife conflict”, simply put, it occurs when humans and animals compete to use the same space to eat, drink and survive. The resulting damage to human well being and property, whether real or perceived, usually determines the retaliation the animal species receive. Unfortunately for wildlife, humans typically come out on top. The challenge we face is to find reasonable solutions that work for both wildlife and humans.
A common accusation against primates is the destruction of crops. Most monkeys and apes are able to survive on a diversity of food, but when their forests are continually cut back, they are left with few options. For some, crops provide an accessible food source. In Uganda, certain families of mountain gorillas living in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest have picked up the habit of foraging in local farming fields. Besides an economic loss to farmers, this situation is also a huge risk to mountain gorillas, who could be shot or poisoned in retaliation, and humans, who could be hurt by a gorilla if they approach them too closely. One solution that has been developed is to establish a “buffer zone” of a crop that is unattractive to gorillas, such as tea. Researchers from Max Planck Institute discovered that in order for this approach to be effective, the buffer zone must be a monoculture crop of just tea. If other crops are interspersed, as is a routine practice, the buffer zone will be ineffective. Constantly fine-tuning methods is necessary, especially when dealing with such highly intelligent animals.
Some species of monkeys, such as baboons and Sykes’ monkeys, are particularly known for adapting to living near humans by taking advantage of garbage receptacles, taking food directly from humans or foraging anywhere food is accessible. Some primates are even so bold as to venture into urban areas, foraging in trash, stealing from restaurants and street carts or even entering homes of humans to help themselves.
One of the best ways to help animals, especially those labeled as pests, is to have a discussion. Many PASA member sanctuaries provide educational outreach programs in communities that live among wildlife, in addition to opening their doors for their neighbors to come see the animals that are unable to be returned to the wild.
An essential way that you can promote peaceful coexistence between humans and primates is by supporting PASA and our members.
Please donate today to support our education and outreach programs.