Open Defence of Thesis by Mr. Shaurabh Anand on 'Patterns and determinates of hman-rhesus macaque conflict', Lecture Hall, NIAS

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus

Bengaluru-560 012

 

 

OPEN DEFENCE OF THESIS

 

 

 

Title:  Patterns and determinants of human-rhesus macaque conflict

 

Candidate: Mr. Shaurabh Anand,

                    School of Natural Sciences and Engineering

 

Adviser:  Prof. Sindhu Radhakrishna

 

Date:  Tuesday, 26 February 2019

 

Time:  2:00 pm

 

Venue:  Lecture Hall, NIAS

 

Abstract:

 

Human-rhesus macaque conflict is one of the major forms of human-primate conflict and is an issue of national importance in India. Present mainly in the form of crop-raiding, it has resulted in substantial financial loss to farmers, and hence has reduced communities’ tolerance towards the presence of the species, leading to lethal retaliatory actions in some regions. Yet, our understanding of factors that drive and mediate this form of conflict is still limited. Hence the specific objective of my study was to investigate the patterns and determinants of human-rhesus macaque conflict. I conducted my study in Solan district, Himachal Pradesh, India and assessed the role of multiple factors such as human social factors, resource management, landscape structure and species behaviour on the development of conflict and its mitigation in the region. I used a combination of research methods – behavioural sampling, phenological monitoring, geospatial analyses and questionnaire surveys - to address my research questions. I followed and observed two troops of rhesus macaques, monitored their crop raiding behaviour, evaluated the landscape structure and natural resource availability and questioned farmers and forest department personnel on their perceptions regarding rhesus macaque conflict. The findings from my studies show that specific cropping patterns lead to particular spatial and temporal patterns of crop damage across the study area that can help predict conflict hotspots for the state. Although the majority of the farmers were unwilling to cause physical harm to rhesus macaques, it was clear that their tolerance for the presence of the species had decreased over time. Forest department personnel differed from farmers in their perceptions regarding causes of conflict. They also varied amongst themselves with respect to best practices to mitigate conflict. Rhesus macaques fed minimally on human cultivars, additionally very few individuals participated in crop-raiding events. However, they depended greatly on agroecosystem habitats for their ranging requirements. Finally, the composition of the landscape, particularly the number and distribution of cultivated land patches, acts an important driver for crop-raiding intensities.  

 

These various factors interact in complex ways to impact the mitigation of conflict in the study area. The disparate views of two major stakeholders, namely farmers and forest department personnel, hinder the successful implementation of government mitigation measures. Therefore, there is a crucial need for greater dialogue between and within these stakeholder groups. Although rhesus macaques fed minimally on crops, their dependence on agroecosystem resources for ranging, caused crop depredations as well as increased farmers’ perceptions regarding crop damage by rhesus macaques. Landscape management practices and cropping patterns clearly impact the spread and intensity of conflict. However, it is essential to rigorously evaluate the cost and benefits of current landscape management practices and cropping patterns, before changes are made in these systems to mitigate conflict. Future studies on human-wildlife conflict should pay greater attention to the interaction effect of multiple human and environmental factors and how this impacts the development of conflict.

 

 

All are invited to attend

Date: 
Tuesday, February 26, 2019