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July 16, 2007

Primate Tourism: Some Adverse Effects

Tibetan Monkey Mom

Primate tourism, an economic benefit and conservation tool in many habitat countries, has exploded in popularity over the past two decades in places like China, Borneo, Uganda, Rwanda, Northern Sumatra, Madagascar, Gabon and Central America
New research by scientists in the United States, China and Japan, however, has found that some primate tourism practices are inappropriate because they provoke an unprecedented level of adult aggression that is proving deadly for infant monkeys.

The 19-year study, "Primate Tourism, Range Restriction and Infant Risk Among Macaca thibetana at Mt. Huangshan, China" augments findings by previous researchers that some forms of wildlife tourism are counterproductive because they lead to disease transmission, disrupt social behavior and actually increase the risk of habitat destruction.

The study, which will be published in the October edition of the International Journal of Primatology, draws two primary conclusions.

One is that infant mortality is a useful indicator of the impact of primate tourism on primate groups. The second is that the specific practice of combining range restriction with provisioning (stocking food in a particular area of the range to increase tourist viewing opportunities) is inappropriate for primate management.

The subjects of the study were Tibetan macaques

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