Solitary male red-tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius) cause significant damage to cocoa crops in Uganda, according to a new study in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Society (TCS). Researchers examined crop raiding by social groups of red-tailed monkeys and lone males, only to discover that solitary males caused significantly more damage to cocoa crops than the average group member. The research may have implications for how to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the area.
“Red-tailed monkeys’ movements to and from the cocoa plantation, were facilitated by close proximity to the forest and by trees planted as wind-breaks and for shade,” the researchers write.
A red-tailed monkey. Photo by: C. Chapman.
Following raiding groups, scientists found the social groups stuck to forest edges and refused to venture too far into a cocoa plantation, thereby limiting the damage. However, solitary males proved more bold: raiding deep into the cocoa crop. While the research found that social groups did more damage overall to the crops, solitary males proved much more destructive than a single member of the social group.
“Solitary males caused damage to crops that was intensive and thorough, perhaps because they had more time to spend in the plantation due to the lack of co-operative activities they had to engage in, compared to individuals living in social groups,” the authors note.
The authors recommend planting tea around a cocoa crop to keep out social groups, as red-tailed monkeys disdain tea. But they write that such methods may do little to keep out males.
“If solitary raiders, which are secretive, cause proportionally more damage, greater time and vigilance will be required for farmers to guard against this threat,” they write adding that controlling crop raiders is an important step to facilitate a better relationship between local farmers and conservation areas in the region.
CITATION: Baranga, D., Isabirye Basuta, G., Teichroeb, J. A., and Chapman, C. A. 2012. Crop raiding patterns of solitary and social groups of red-tailed monkeys on cocoa pods in Uganda. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 5(1):104-111.