Tourists are a “real worry” for macaque monkeys

4 July 2011 Science News

 Tourists are a "real worry" for macaque monkeys

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Research led by Laëtitia Maréchal and Dr Stuart Semple at the University of Roehampton in London, showed that the monkeys expressed signs of anxiety when people got too close, fed them or tried to attract their attention for photographs.

Scientists from Roehampton monitored the monkeys' behaviour at Morocco's Ilfrane National Park and tested the animals' droppings for stress hormones.

Behaviour such as fidgeting and excessive scratching served as an indicator that the macaques are experiencing heightened anxiety levels.

It is estimated that there are fewer than 6,000 Barbary macaques left in the wild, found mainly in then mountainous regions of Algeria and Morocco.

Maréchal said that the findings are a concern as stressed monkeys are particularly vulnerable to disease and their reproduction could also be affected.

"The Barbary macaque has recently been declared an endangered species... Anything that threatens those that remain is a real worry."

Dr Semple told Channel 4 News that guidelines need to be established for tourists visiting monkeys in the wild, such as restricting visitors from feeding them in order to keep a safe distance.

However he said that visiting monkeys in the wild should not be banned.

"Primate tourism is a fast-growing business with huge potential conservation benefits, generating local income and providing an economic incentive to protect animals and their habitats," Dr Semple said.

The results of the report are published in the journal Biological Conservation.


Source: BBC and Channel 4 News








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