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Neuroscience - Nutrition

Crop Damage by Primates: Quantifying the Key Parameters of Crop-Raiding Events
Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Author: Graham E. Wallace et al.

by Graham E. Wallace, Catherine M. Hill

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.