International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1102–1119 | Cite as

Community Perceptions of the Crop-Feeding Buton Macaque (Macaca ochreata brunnescens): an Ethnoprimatological Study on Buton Island, Sulawesi

  • Jane L. Hardwick
  • Nancy E. C. Priston
  • Thomas E. Martin
  • David G. Tosh
  • Abdul H. Mustari
  • Kirsten E. Abernethy


Human–wildlife overlap is increasing worldwide as a result of agricultural expansion. This can reduce human tolerance of wildlife, especially if wildlife threatens human food sources. The greatest threat to the declining populations of the endemic Buton macaque (Macaca ochreata brunnescens) is habitat destruction, but as a common crop-feeding species, there is also an additional risk of retaliation killings from farmers. Finding means of reducing this risk will thus help secure the long-term future of this range-restricted subspecies. Here, we investigate variability in farmers’ perceptions of primate crop-feeding and mitigation techniques in three farming communities on Buton Island, Indonesia, which differ in wealth and agricultural resources. We employ a mixed methodology, collecting qualitative social data from focus groups and quantitative observational data to measure macaque crop-feeding occurrences. Our findings indicate that the least wealthy community used lethal control methods more frequently than the comparatively wealthier communities, even when the crop-feeding problem was less severe. The least wealthy community also expressed high levels of fear of macaques, and had the most negative perceptions of them. This community also had no knowledge of the macaques’ conservation status or their ecological roles. We recommend that efforts to protect Buton macaques focus on education and the use of effective nonlethal mitigation techniques, such as electric fencing. We also suggest that initiatives to support such measures may be most effectively directed toward communities with relatively low economic wealth and high reliance on subsistence agriculture, especially where crop-feeding wildlife is feared, even when such communities do not experience the highest losses from crop-feeding wildlife.


Crop feeding Ethnoprimatology Farming Human–wildlife conflict Indonesia Mitigation Pests Primates 



This project was supported by Operation Wallacea and the University of Exeter. The authors would like to express grateful acknowledgments to all participants who partook in the focus group discussions in Labundo-bundo, Kaweli, and Lawele. We thank Charlotte Palmer, Graden Froese, Josh Twining, Caoimhe O’Brien, and Seth Wong for their assistance on site, and Lindsay Childs, Jade Lavallee, Elizabeth Allen, and Emma Doherty for assisting with the macaque behavioral data collection. We extend thanks to the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and Kementerian Riset dan Teknologi Republik Indonesia (RISTEK) for providing permission to complete this research under RISTEK permit no. 211/SIP/FRP/SM/VI/2013 and 178/SIP/FRP/SM/V1/2014. We also thank Joanna Setchell and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments, and Sarah Crowley for her useful academic feedback.

Supplementary material

10764_2017_9999_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 23.9 kb)


  1. Arjunan, M., Holmes, C., Puyravaud, J.-P., & Davidar, P. (2006). Do developmental initiatives influence local attitudes toward conservation? A case study from the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, India. Journal of Environmental Management, 79, 188–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Arlet, M. E., & Molleman, F. (2007). Rodents damage crops more than wildlife in subsistence agriculture on the northern periphery of Dja Reserve, Cameroon. International Journal of Pest Management, 53, 237–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brooks, J., Waylen, K. A., & Mulder, M. B. (2013). Assessing community-based conservation projects: A systematic review and multilevel analysis of attitudinal, behavioural, ecological and economic outcomes. Environmental Evidence, 2, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Campbell-Smith, G., Simanjorang, H. V. P., Leader-Williams, N., & Linkie, M. (2010). Local attitudes and perceptions towards crop-raiding by orang-utans (Pongo abelii) and other nonhuman primates in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. American Journal of Primatology, 71, 1–11.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, C. A., & Chapman, L. J. (1996). Frugivory and the fate of dispersed and non-dispersed seeds of six African tree species. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 12, 491–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman, C. A., & Onderdonk, D. A. (1998). Forests without primates: Primate/plant co-dependency. American Journal of Primatology, 45, 127–141.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Chiyo, P. I., Moss, C. J., Archie, E. A., Hollister-Smith, J. A., & Alberts, S. C. (2011). Using molecular and observational techniques to estimate the number and raiding patterns of crop-raiding elephants. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 788–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dickman, A. J. (2010). Complexities of conflict: The importance of considering social factors for effectively resolving human-wildlife conflict. Animal Conservation, 13, 458–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dickman, A. J. (2013). From cheetahs to chimpanzees: A comparative review of the drivers of human-carnivore and human-primate conflict. Folia Primatologica, 83, 377–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edwards, D. P., Koh, L. P., & Laurance, W. F. (2012). Indonesia’s REDD+ pact: Saving imperilled forests or business as usual? Biological Conservation, 151, 41–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fiallo, E. A., & Jacobson, S. K. (1995). Local communities and protected areas: Attitudes of rural residents towards conservation and Machalilla National Park, Ecuador. Environmental Conservation, 22(3), 241–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fuentes, A. (2012). Ethnoprimatology and the anthropology of the human-primate interface. Annual Review of Anthropology, 41, 101–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fuentes, A., & Hockings, K. J. (2010). The ethnoprimatological approach in primatology. American Journal of Primatology, 72, 841–847.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gadd, M. E. (2005). Conservation out of parks: Attitudes of local people in Laikipea, Kenya. Environmental Conservation, 32, 50–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Googlemaps, CNES/Astrium and Digitalglobe (2015). Map of Buton Island. Accessed 03 Dec 2015.
  16. Green, S., & Minkowski, K. (1977). The lion-tailed monkey and its South Indian rainforest habitat. In I. I. I. Prince Rainer & G. H. Bourne (Eds.), Primate conservation (pp. 290–337). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hahn, B. H., Shaw, G. M., De Cock, K. M., & Sharp, P. M. (2000). AIDS as a zoonosis: Scientific and public health implications. Science, 287, 607–614.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Hill, C. M. (2000). A conflict of interest between people and baboons: Crop raiding in Uganda. International Journal of Primatology, 21, 299–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hill, C. M. (2002). Primate conservation and local communities: Ethical issues and debates. American Anthropologist, 104, 1184–1194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill, C. M. (2015). Perspectives of “conflict” at the wildlife-agriculture boundary: 10 years on. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 20, 296–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hill, C. M. (2017). Primate crop feeding behaviour, crop protection and conservation. International Journal of Primatology, 38, 385–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hockings, K. J., & McLennan, M. R. (2016). Problematic primate behaviour in agricultural landscapes: Chimpanzees as ‘pests’ and ‘predators. In M. Waller (Ed.), Ethnoprimatology (pp. 137–156). Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. Hockings, K. J., & Sousa, C. (2011). Differential utilisation of cashew – a low-conflict crop–by sympatric humans and chimpanzees. Oryx, 46, 375–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hockings, K. J., McLennan, M. R., Carvalho, S., Ancrenaz, M., Bobe, R., et al (2015). Apes in the Anthropocene: Flexibility and survival. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 4, 215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hsiao, S. S., Ross, C., Hill, C. M., & Wallace, G. E. (2013). Crop-raiding deterrents around Budongo Forest Reserve: An evaluation through farmer actions and perceptions. Oryx, 4, 569–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kumar, A., Singh, M., & Molur, S. (2008). Macaca silenus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed 13 Sept 2017.
  27. Lee, P. C., & Priston, N. E. C. (2005). Human attitudes to primates: Perceptions of pests, conflicts and consequences for primate conservation. In J. D. Paterson (Ed.), Commensalism and conflict: The primate–human interface (pp. 1–23). Winnipeg: Hignell Printing.Google Scholar
  28. Manullang, B., & Supriatna, J. (2008). Macaca ochreata ssp. brunnescens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed 10 Dec 2016.
  29. Marchal, V., & Hill, C. (2009). Primate crop-raiding: A study of local perceptions in four villages in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Primate Conservation, 24, 107–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Martin, T. E., Harrison, B., & Wheeler, P. M. (2015). The case for REDD+ funding for the Buton forests: A summary. Old Bolingbroke: Operation Wallacea.Google Scholar
  31. McLennan, M. R. (2008). Beleaguered chimpanzees in the agricultural district of Hoima, western Uganda. Primate Conservation, 23, 45–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McLennan, M. R., & Hill, C. M. (2012). Troublesome neighbours: Changing attitudes towards chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in a human-dominated landscape in Uganda. Journal for Nature Conservation, 20, 219–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Naughton-Treves, L., & Treves, A. (2005). Socioecological factors shaping local support for wildlife in Africa. In R. Woodroffe, S. Thirgood, & A. Rabinowitz (Eds.), People and wildlife, conflict or coexistence? (pp. 253–277). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Nyhus, P. J., & Tilson, R. (2000). Crop-raiding elephants and conservation implications at Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia. Oryx, 34, 262–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ogra, M. V. (2008). Human-wildlife conflict and gender in protected area borderlands: A case study of the costs, perceptions and vulnerabilities from Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal), India. Geoforum, 39, 1408–1422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Osborn, F. V., & Hill, C. M. (2005). Techniques to reduce crop loss: Human and technical dimensions in Africa. In R. Woodroffe, S. Thirgood, & A. Rabinowitz (Eds.), People and wildlife: Conflict or coexistence? (pp. 72–85). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Peterson, M. N., Birckhead, J. L., Leong, K., Peterson, M. J., & Peterson, T. R. (2010). Rearticulating the myth of human-wildlife conflict. Conservation Letters, 3, 74–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Priston, N. E. C. (2005). Crop-raiding by Macaca ochreata brunnescens in Sulawesi: Reality, perceptions and outcomes for conservation. Doctoral thesis, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  39. Priston, N. E. C., Wyper, R. M., & Lee, P. C. (2012). Buton macaques (Macaca ochreata brunnescens): Crops, conflict and behaviour on farms. American Journal of Primatology, 74, 29–36.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Riley, E. P. (2006). Ethnoprimatology: Toward reconciliation of biological and cultural anthropology. Ecological and Environmental Anthropology, 2, 75–86.Google Scholar
  41. Riley, E. P. (2010). The importance of human-macaque folk law for conservation in Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi. Oryx, 44, 235–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Riley, E. P., & Ellwanger, A. L. (2013). Methods in ethnoprimatology: Exploring the human-non-human primate interface. In E. Sterling, N. Bynum, & M. Blair (Eds.), Primate ecology and conservation: A handbook of techniques (pp. 128–150). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Riley, E. P., & Priston, N. E. C. (2010). Macaques in farms and folk law: Exploring the human-nonhuman primate interface in Sulawesi, Indonesia. American Journal of Primatology, 71, 1–7.Google Scholar
  44. Saj, T. L., Sicotte, P., & Paterson, J. D. (2001). The conflict between vervet monkeys and farmers at the forest edge in Entebbe, Uganda. African Journal of Ecology, 39, 195–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shibia, M. G. (2010). Determinants of attitudes and perceptions on resource use and management of Marsabit National Reserve, Kenya. Journal of Human Ecology, 30, 55–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sillero-Zubiri, C., & Switzer, D. (2001). Crop raiding primates: Searching for alternative, humane ways to resolve conflict with farmers in Africa. Oxford: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University.Google Scholar
  47. Singleton, I., Paembonan, A. W., Aprianto, S., & Sugeng (2002). Human-orangutan conflict. Report from the workshop on human and wildlife conflict, September 26 and 27 (p. 2002). Sumatra: Pekanbaru.Google Scholar
  48. Sinha, A., Kumar, S., Gama, N., Madhusudan, M. D., & Mishra, C. (2006). Distribution and conservation status of the Arunachal macaque, Macaca munzala, in western Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India. Primate Conservation, 21, 145–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sponsel, L. E. (1997). The human niche in Amazonia: Explorations in ethnoprimatology. In W. G. Kinzey (Ed.), New world primates (pp. 143–165). New York: Aldine De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  50. Sunderlin, W. D., Larson, A. M., Duchelle, A. E., Resosudarmo, I. A. P., Huynh, T. B., et al (2014). How are REDD+ proponents addressing tenure problems? Evidence from Brazil, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia, and Vietnam. World Development, 55, 37–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Supriatna, J., & Ario, A. (2015). Primates as flagships for conserving biodiversity and parks in Indonesia: Lessons learned from West Java and North Sumatra. Primate Conservation, 29, 123–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. The Wallace Foundation. (2013). Workbook D: Conducting focus groups. Accessed 4 Mar 2013.
  53. Tonts, M., & Siddique, M. A. B. (2011). Globalisation, agriculture and development: Perspectives from Asia-Pacific. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ukizintambara, T. (2008). Edge effects on ranging and foraging behaviour of L’hoest’s monkey (Cercopithecus lhoesti) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. London: Rufford Maurice Lang Foundation.Google Scholar
  55. UN-REDD Programme. (2016). UN-REDD Programme. Accessed 2 June 2017.
  56. Wang, S. W., Lassoie, J. P., & Curtis, P. D. (2006). Farmer attitudes towards conservation in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Bhutan. Environmental Conservation, 33, 148–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wheeler, P. (2011). Lambusango Forest Research project three-year research program 2009–2011. Old Bolingbroke: Operation Wallacea.Google Scholar
  58. Whitten, T., Mustafa, M., & Henderson, G. S. (2002). The ecology of Sulawesi. Singapore: Periplus Press.Google Scholar
  59. Zinner, D., Fickenscher, G. H., & Roos, C. (2013). Family Cercopithidae (Old World Monkeys). In R. A. Mittermeier, A. B. Rylands, & D. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of the mammals of the world, Vol. 3: Primates (pp. 550–754). Lynx Edicions: Barcelona.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane L. Hardwick
    • 1
  • Nancy E. C. Priston
    • 2
  • Thomas E. Martin
    • 3
  • David G. Tosh
    • 4
  • Abdul H. Mustari
    • 5
  • Kirsten E. Abernethy
    • 6
  1. 1.Environmental Futures Research InstituteGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  2. 2.Anthropological Centre for Conservation, the Environment and DevelopmentOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK
  3. 3.Operation Wallacea LtdOld BolingbrokeUK
  4. 4.Centre of Environmental Data and Recording, National Museums of Northern IrelandHolywoodUK
  5. 5.Faculty of Forestry, Department of Forest Resources Conservation and EcotourismBogorIndonesia
  6. 6.Environment and Sustainability InstituteUniversity of ExeterCornwallUK

Personalised recommendations