Behavioral Differences between Provisioned and Non-Provisioned Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus)

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The majority of Gibraltar's Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) are provided with fruit and vegetable rations to keep them in the nature reserve and away from town. Recent fissioning of one troop has created a vagrant group that is denied access to official feeding sites by other troops, and which visits major tourist sites less often. Using focal follows and instantaneous sampling, this study compared behavioral differences between two troops of provisioned and one troop of non-provisioned macaques. Kruskal-Wallis tests showed that the proportion of scans individuals devoted to foraging and vigilance differed significantly between the three groups (foraging 2 = 10.19, df = 2, p < 0.05; vigilance 2 = 9.35, df = 2, p < 0.05), whereas those devoted to feeding and grooming did not. As expected, foraging was highest in the non-provisioned troop. Whilst the proportion of feeding records individuals allocated to natural and tourist foods did not differ significantly between the three groups, only macaques from provisioned groups were observed to feed on official provisions, and only those from the non-provisioned group fed on waste food at the rubbish tip. Differences in the diet of provisioned and non-provisioned macaques are discussed with respect to the available foods. Provisioning had no effect on the distance to nearest conspecifics, the rate of interaction with humans or the proportion of human–primate interactions initiated by macaques. The effectiveness of official provisioning and the welfare implications of this and tourist feeding are also discussed.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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