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.

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We thank the Kementerian Negara Riset dan Teknologi Republik Indonesia (RISTEK) for permission to conduct research in Indonesia, and Universitas Hasanuddin (UNHAS) for permission to work in the Education Forest. We are grateful for financial support provided by a Henry Luce Award from the American Institute for Indonesian Studies (PI: E. P. Riley) and San Diego State University’s University Grant Program (PI: E. P. Riley). We are indebted to Dr. Ngakan Putu Oka and Pak Muhammad Restu for their sponsorship, and the UNHAS Forestry Faculty for providing GIS data for the Education Forest. We also thank Joanna Setchell, the guest editors, Kimberley Hockings, Matthew McLennan, Noemi Spagnoletti, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript. Finally, we offer many thanks to our field assistants (Amir, Paisal, and Pak Pado), Cristina Sagnotti, and the farmers whose assistance and participation made this research possible.

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Correspondence to Alison A. Zak.

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Handling Editor: Matthew McLennan

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Shows an adult moor macaque consuming an unripe cacao pod (MPG 22138 kb)

Demonstrates the cacao harvesting technique used by an adult male vmoor macaque. (MPG 23690 kb)

Video 1

Shows an adult moor macaque consuming an unripe cacao pod (MPG 22138 kb)

Video 2

Demonstrates the cacao harvesting technique used by an adult male vmoor macaque. (MPG 23690 kb)

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Zak, A.A., Riley, E.P. Comparing the Use of Camera Traps and Farmer Reports to Study Crop Feeding Behavior of Moor Macaques (Macaca maura). Int J Primatol 38, 224–242 (2017) doi:10.1007/s10764-016-9945-6

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  • Behavioral flexibility
  • Crop raiding
  • Ethnoprimatology
  • Human–wildlife conflict
  • Macaca maura Methods