Ecotourism in macaque-habitats: significance to wildlife conservation

Primate ecotourism is now considered a new and improved pathway to introducing the natural environment to local communities. Several field conservation programs for macaques have recorded them to be popular ecotourism attractions. However, it is a multi-faceted approach and could introduce free-ranging macaque populations to new pressures that have not been studied or documented. With burgeoning human populations, an increasing overlap between macaque habitats and human dwellings has been recorded in countries such as India, Indonesia and Gibraltar. Scientists have observed higher levels of competition between macaques and humans in regions were their habitats overlap. Zoonotic diseases and their transmission between macaque and human populations have also been documented. Macaque behavior has been found to notably change, with higher incidences of aggressive encounters with young, resulting in infant mortality. Macaques living in and near areas that are frequently visited by humans such as temples tend to interact more and be regularly fed, especially in countries where primates are worshipped. In zoos and wild animal parks, captive macaques are also considered popular attractions. Large numbers of zoo tourists have been observed to have a detrimental effect on captive macaque behavior and welfare, influencing displays of behavioral abnormalities. It is imperative that programs that are interested in utilizing tools such as ecotourism for species conservation are well-planned to reduce the probable threat to free-ranging macaque populations and their natural habitats.

Keywords: Macaque, ecotourism, macaque-human interaction, zoonotic diseases, conservation awareness

Suggested citation: Mallapur A in press Ecotourism in macaque-habitats: significance to wildlife conservation. In: Radhakrishna S, Huffman, M and Sinha A and (Eds). The Macaque Connection: Cooperation and Conflict between Humans and Macaques.

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