Comparing the Use of Camera Traps and Farmer Reports to Study Crop Feeding Behavior of Moor Macaques (Macaca maura)
Investigating crop feeding patterns by primates is an increasingly important objective for primatologists and conservation practitioners alike. Although camera trap technology is used to study primates and other wildlife in numerous ways, i.e., activity patterns, social structure, species richness, abundance, density, diet, and demography, it is comparatively underused in the study of human–primate interactions. We compare photographic (N = 210) and video (N = 141) data of crop feeding moor macaques (Macaca maura) from remote sensor cameras, functioning for 231 trap days, with ethnographic data generated from semistructured interviews with local farmers. Our results indicate that camera traps can provide data on the following aspects of crop feeding behavior: species, crop type and phase targeted, harvesting technique used, and daily and seasonal patterns of crop feeding activity. We found camera traps less useful, however, in providing information on the individual identification and age/sex class of crop feeders, exact group size, and amount of crops consumed by the moor macaques. While farmer reports match camera trap data regarding crop feeding species and how wildlife access the gardens, they differ when addressing crop feeding event frequency and timing. Understanding the mismatches between camera trap data and farmer reports is valuable to conservation efforts that aim to mitigate the conflict between crop feeding wildlife and human livelihoods. For example, such information can influence changes in the way certain methods are used to deter crop feeding animals from damaging crops. Ultimately, we recommend using remote-sensing camera technology in conjunction with other methods to study crop feeding behavior.