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Troop Size, Habitat Use, and Diet of Chacma Baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus) in Commercial Pine Plantations: Implications for Management


1 August 2011 General News

Troop Size, Habitat Use, and Diet of Chacma Baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus) in Commercial Pine Plantations: Implications for Management

International Journal of Primatology | Henzi S. Peter et al | August 2011

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Abstract: Primates living outside protected areas frequently come into conflict with humans. While the focus of most research has been on the costs and consequences of crop raiding in relation to subsistence agriculture, large-scale commercial agriculture presents conservation challenges of its own. Baboons that occupy commercial pine plantations in southern Africa often damage young trees and, consequently, are shot in large numbers. We here aim to describe the population structure and resource and habitat use by baboons in such areas to provide the data needed for the formulation of viable long-term conservation policies. We used radio-collars to obtain estimates of home range size and habitat usage from 2 plantation troops and detailed observation of 1 of these to determine their diet. We compared these data, together with counts of troop size, to those from individuals in the same population that did not enter plantation. Although the mean troop size (42.2) of baboons in plantations was significantly higher than in adjoining natural areas (18.3), population density (2.8 individuals/km(2)) did not differ. Plantation baboons had a comparatively restricted diet in which a few indigenous species were disproportionately represented. Pine cambium was not an important dietary component and the baboons generally avoided compartments of pine trees to forage in small pockets of various natural plant communities. We argue that foresters should shift their policy from one of baboon extirpation to the long-term management of local populations, in the context of a proper and ongoing evaluation of the discounted cost of baboon damage.

International Journal of Primatology (2011) 32: 1020-1032

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