Journal Article

2018

P JeganathanDivya MudappaT R Shankar RamanM Ananda Kumar
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Understanding perceptions of people towards lion-tailed macaques in a fragmented landscape of the Anamalai Hills, Western Ghats, India

The fragmentation of the rainforests of India’s Western Ghats mountains has left the endemic lion-tailed macaque sur-viving in numerous forest patches in a mosaic of commercial tea and coffee plantations. On the Valparai Plateau, Anamalai Hills,some macaque groups have evidently altered their behavior, becoming habituated to people, suffering from frequent roadkill, andfacing problems related to people feeding them and their use of open waste dumps. We carried out a questionnaire survey aroundthree rainforest fragments (Puthuthottam, Korangumudi, Old Valparai) and the town of Valparai to understand people’s percep-tions towards macaques, and to identify appropriate conflict-mitigation measures. Macaques near Korangumudi and Old Valparairarely ventured near residences, and most people were unaware of their presence. Respondents in and around Puthuthottam wereaware of the macaques, and most (68%) had negative perceptions of them because the macaques often visited houses in the area.Most respondents (87%) believed that macaques visited houses in search of food and garbage, and 84% reported that macaqueswere doing this only over the last 10 years. Housing conditions influenced people's perceptions: people living in tiled-roofhouses that were vulnerable to incursions by the macaques had higher negative perceptions (84.5%) compared to people livingin asbestos-roof and concrete structures. To reduce negative interactions with people and promote harmonious human-macaqueco-existence, we suggest implementing a combination of measures that would involve plantation management, conservation orga-nizations, and the state forest and municipal authorities. The measures include cost-effective monkey-proofing of houses, regulargarbage collection, preventing open waste disposal and the feeding of macaques, mitigating the effects of roads, and promotingpeople’s awareness, rainforest restoration, and the use of native shade trees in plantations.

Primate Conservation 32: 11 pp.