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Local attitudes and perceptions toward crop-raiding by orangutans (Pongo abelii) and other nonhuman primates in northern Sumatra, Indonesia

Authors

  • Gail Campbell-Smith,

    Corresponding author
    1. Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
    • Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, Marlowe Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NR, Kent, United Kingdom
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  • Hubert V.P. Simanjorang,

    1. University of North Sumatra, Department of Forestry, Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia
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  • Nigel Leader-Williams,

    1. Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
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  • Matthew Linkie

    1. Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
    2. Fauna and Flora International-Aceh Programme, Aceh Besar, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Indonesia
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Abstract

Human–wildlife conflicts, such as crop-raiding, increase as people expand their agricultural activities into wildlife habitats. Crop-raiding can reduce tolerance toward species that are already threatened, whereas potential dangers posed by conflicts with large-bodied species may also negatively influence local attitudes. Across Asia, wild pigs and primates, such as macaques, tend to be the most commonly reported crop raiders. To date, reports of crop-raiding incidents involving great apes have been less common, but incidents involving orangutans are increasingly emerging in Indonesia. To investigate the interplay of factors that might explain attitudes toward crop-raiding by orangutans (Pongo abelii), focal group discussions and semi-structured interviews were conducted among 822 farmers from 2 contrasting study areas in North Sumatra. The first study area of Batang Serangan is an agroforest system containing isolated orangutans that crop-raid. In contrast, the second area of Sidikalang comprises farmlands bordering extensive primary forest where orangutans are present but not reported to crop-raid. Farmers living in Batang Serangan thought that orangutans were dangerous, irrespective of earlier experience of crop-raiding. Farmers placed orangutans as the third most frequent and fourth most destructive crop pest, after Thomas' leaf monkey (Presbytis thomasi), wild boar (Sus scrofa), and long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis). Although most (57%) farmers across both study areas were not scared of wildlife species, more than a quarter (28%) of the farmers' feared orangutans. Farmers in Batang Serangan were generally more tolerant toward crop-raiding orangutans, if they did not perceive them to present a physical threat. Most (67%) Batang Serangan farmers said that the local Forestry Department staff should handle crop-raiding orangutans, and most (81%) said that these officials did not care about such problems. Our results suggest that efforts to mitigate human–orangutan conflict may not, per se, change negative perceptions of those who live with the species, because these perceptions are often driven by fear. Am. J. Primatol. 72:866–876, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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