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Ecology of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and its implication for the management of human-macaque interface in Singapore

Ecology of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and its implication for the management of human-macaque interface in Singapore
John Sha Chih Mun

2013

Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, JAPAN.

ABSTRACT

The long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) population of the island-state of Singapore consists of ca. 1,228–1,454 individuals. About seventy percent of the population (ca. 1,027 individuals) is concentrated in both Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves, a system of reservoirs and forest reserves located in the center of Singapore. This core population resides mainly along perimeter forest areas of the reserve system, which is bordered by residential and recreational areas (e.g., parks and golf courses) and encircled by expressways. Periphery sub-populations (ca. 427 individuals) persist in forest fragments throughout Singapore mainland and on 5 offshore islands. Much of the Singaporean macaque population overlaps with human settlement and these commensal groups are mainly distributed close to roads, parks and residential areas. At least 70% of these groups are habituated to human presence and at least 50% to food provisioning. Moreover, commensal groups have more individuals and have higher infant:adult female ratios than non-commensal groups. The close association of habituated macaque groups living in human environments has led to increasing human-macaque conflict in Singapore. The overlap is also associated with human-induced population loss resulting from road accidents (2.4%); and trapping efforts (14%) aimed at ameliorating conflict issues. Consequently, it is important to better understand how humans are affecting macaque populations. In order to mitigate human-macaque conflict and at the same maintain a sustainable macaque population in Singapore, there is an urgent need for wildlife management strategies aimed at minimizing the extent of human-macaque conflict. Such strategies should include designing appropriate buffers around reserve areas, revised urban development plans, and managing the behavior of people interfacing with macaques.