Birth Control Planning

Birth control for the long-tailed macaques of Don Chao Poo Forest, Phana, has been discussed for several years. The local council has been reluctant to take up the matter, fearing that it would make them unpopular with local people — their electorate. But as the population has soared (almost doubling in four years), the reverse has been the case. Local residents are beginning to find their property raided by more and more monkeys.

In actual fact, these raids are quite limited in frequency and location, but there is little doubt that they will become more frquent and more widespread if the population is allowed to continue growing at its current rate.

So at the end of this month, a team of veterinary surgeons and their assistants will arrive in Phana to conduct vasectomy procedures on adult and some sub-adult males. It is hoped to target up to 100 monkeys. Those who have been successfully vasectomised will be marked so that they won’t be entrapped in future.

The veterinarians were in Phana recently for a meeting hosted by OPT Phana, a sub-district council whose head offices are adjacent to the forest.

In the photo below you will see most of those who participated in the meeting.

Back row, from left to right:

Dr Pathompong (Director, Phana District Hospital), Dr Visit (Dusit Zoo), Mr Prawat, Mr Kanok (Mayor, OPT Phana), Dr Vichit (Director of Wildlife Conservation, Dept of Natural Resources, Lower Isan) and Dr Supagorn (Forestry Dept).

Front row, left to right:

Mrs Pensri (Phana Monkey Project), Mrs Suksi (Phana Municipality) and Dr Bongkotmat (Wildlife Conservation, Ubon).

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Later the group went to the hospital to consider whether to use one of their rooms to carry out the operations. Here they are discussing the relative merits of the room offered by the hospital and one they had already looked at in the OPT offices.

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Phana Monkey Project has undertaken to advise on the best locations for trap cages based on the home range of the 4 large troops of macaques that share residence in Don Chao Poo Forest.

A further meeting has been held to plan  community cultural events that will precede the actual medical procedures. You will be able to read more about those events here nearer to the time.

Posted in Birth control, Forest conservation & renewal, Long-tailed Macaques, Macaca Fascicularis, Phana Monkey Project | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tree planting on mother’s day

 

360 trees of 10 different species were planted in Don Chao Poo Forest this morning. Today is a public holiday in Thailand — it is the Queen’s birthday and Mother’s Day is celebrated too.

About 30 people of all ages got together to plant the trees and when they had finished they had lunch and ice cream at a local restaurant.

Here are some of the trees waiting to be taken to the forest:

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Loaded up and ready to go to the forest:

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And here are some of the planters:

And a few of them enjoying their lunch:

It wil not be easy to monitor the new growth, but we will try to do so. We will be pleased if 50% survive.

Posted in Bio-diversity, Forest conservation & renewal, monkey forest, Plant Genetic Conservation Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

News from the Phana Monkey Project

Some changes have been made recently to our web presence. Firstly, we have changed the name of our Facebook Page to Phana Monkey Project. You can find it HERE.

Two young French students from EMLYON (based in Lyons, France) recently spent two months with us in Phana. Here they are in the forest in front of the Chao Poo shrine:

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And here they are at work in our study centre:

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They left us with many changes / additions that we are very grateful for. Here are five of them:

our new logo:

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New signage for our litter bins:

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We have many bones and skulls of long-tailed macaques, including some complete skeletons, but this is the first standing exhibit, now taking pride of place in the study centre exhibition:

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Then there is a video, which we hope will get the “put litter in the bins” message across. See it on our youtube channel Watch now.

And finally, they set up a new website for us. It has lots of information about the Phana Monkey Project, about Phana and how to get here, the forest, the monkeys and lots more. It is active HERE. Please make a note of the address, too:

http://www.phanamonkeyproject.org

For all of which, and more, we are really grateful. Thank you, Denis and Victor!

 

Posted in Litterbins, Dustbins, Long-tailed Macaques, Macaques, monkey forest, Phana Monkey Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Secret Forest

Most people who venture into the Thai monkey forest known as Don Chao Poo, Amphur Phana, in Amnat Charoen Province, don’t venture very far so what they know of the forest is the concrete road where most of the monkeys also spend their days.

But hidden away from the road, the forest presents a different face. Here is a sample of what lies out of sight.

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This part of the forest is largely undisturbed by humans, although a few people search for mushrooms after the rain and some dead wood is removed. The monkeys use forest like this for their sleeping quarters but apart from a few solitary males, few monleys spend time here during the day. Butterflies are plentiful and you can hear birds but rarely see them. We should be (and are) pleased that some of the forest has been more or less untouched for the last 50 or so years.

Posted in Bio-diversity, Long-tailed Macaques, monkey forest, Phana Monkey Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the forest

Two months away from Don Chao Poo Forest can seem like a very long time. Returning, we find some things have changed while others remain more or less as they were.

The rainy season has got started now so low-level vegetation is flourishing. On the other hand, some of the taller, older trees are losing small branches, and occasionally there is an explosion and a bigger branch comes crashing down. Unsurprisingly, this creates a brief uproar and panic amongst the monkeys.

Some monkeys well-known to us seem to have disappeared but we are hoping that as usual they will reappear before too long. In the meantime, more infants have been born and there are still some new pregnancies visible.

Here are a few photos from our first few days back in Don Chao Poo Forest:

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Twins are not easy to move around …

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… but they can be easier to manage sitting still. Not for long, though.

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The monitor lizards that live in the hole you can see at the bottom of the next photo come out to sun themselves early in the morning. And to get a bit amorous, it seems.

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Two bee colonies have been established since we left. They are both in locations identical to two that we saw two years ago.

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Posted in Bees, Bio-diversity, Long-tailed Macaques, Monitor lizards, monkey forest, wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Children of the Forest

Another film posted by James Jefferies, made while he and Erin Ranney were filming in Phana. This film gives a close-up view of the interactions between monkeys and humans in Phana. Unlike the relationship between these two sets of primates in many parts of Thailand, the relationship here is almost totally harmonious. Long may it remain so.

Posted in Community action, Long-tailed Macaques, Macaques, Macaques habituated to humans, Phana Monkey Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Identifying High-Ranking Female Macaques

Eliana Zuckerman and Hannah Rodgers, students at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, came to Phana to carry out their “winter term project”. They were ‘looking for a way to learn about primate behavior and contribute to environmental education’.

After spending a little time getting to know the monkeys, they settled on a study of female grooming as a means of identifying high-ranking females.

Here is their study:

Female grooming

Social Rank and Grooming in Female Macaca fascicularis (Long-Tailed Macaques)

Eliana Zuckerman and Hannah Rodgers

Phana Macaque Project, Don Chao Poo Forest, Phana, Thailand

January 2016

ABSTRACT

This study examined dominance in wild female long-tailed macaques through grooming and antagonism concerning access to food. In long-tailed macaque troops, grooming is an important social behavior that signifies social status. Access to scarce food can induce antagonistic encounters. The Don Chao Poo Forest in Phana, Thailand is home to over 1,000 long-tailed macaques. Data was collected by identifying a pair of female monkeys grooming, tossing rice in front of them, and labeling one monkey as dominant based on the successive behaviors. Our data supported the hypothesis that the monkey being groomed is more likely to win aggressive encounters and to access the food.

INTRODUCTION

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) have the third largest geographic range among primates. They adapt well to the presence of humans and are considered sacred at some Buddhist temples, though they have also become problematic in some areas due to aggression and transmission of diseases. They are the most frequently observed primate in Thailand (Malaivijitnond and Hamada, 2008).

Long-tailed macaques organize into social groups with multiple males and multiple females.  Their social interactions are based on strong despotic and nepotistic dominance hierarchies. Their highly complex social life allows them to maintain relationships and assess the ranks of other monkeys (Karimullah and Anuar, 2011). Some evidence shows that higher-ranking females are groomed more than subordinate females, who spend more time grooming others (Hambali et al., 2012).

Don Chao Poo park, created in 1973, is located 200 meters away from the village of Phana in the north east of Thailand. The park is home to a population of about 800 long-tailed macaques (do Carmo Jorge, 2013).  Don Chao Poo is a protected forest of about 1 sq km that is a sanctuary to multiple troopes of long-tailed macaques. These macaques are accustomed human interaction as they have been filmed and researched frequently over the past 5 years. The members of the village and the visitors to the forest frequently feed monkeys grains, fruits, and vegetables (Whiting, 2015).

METHODS

Data Collection

Long-tailed macaques were observed in open areas of the Don Chao Poo Forest, generally in the morning (8-10:30AM) or evening (5-6 PM), as monkeys were most likely to be grooming at these times. Two observers recorded 100 trials over 10 days between January 11 and January 24, 2016.

Focal animals were chosen by randomly picking a pair of grooming female monkeys. Infants and young juveniles were not picked. The time, general location, and noticeable descriptors were recorded for the monkey grooming (B) and the monkey being groomed (A). Next, an observer tossed about 5g of uncooked rice directly in front of the monkeys. The other observer recorded which animal began eating first and noted other interactions until either the rice was finished or one/both of the monkeys left. Either inconclusive, A dominant, or B dominant was noted for each trial.

The following situations were noted as inconclusive:

  • Neither or both monkeys eat the rice, and are not scared away.
  • Other monkeys scare away both A and B.
  • One monkey is scared away, but later returns and eats.
  • Both monkeys eat the rice, then one monkey leaves for an unknown reason.

The following situations were categorized as A dominant over B:

  • A chases B away from the rice and eats.
  • A eats the rice. B leaves or moves away without eating rice.
  • Other monkeys come up and scare B away from the rice but not A.

The same situations were used to categorize B over A. Observers stopped recording trials if they were followed by other monkeys who chased away focal animals.  Videos were taken of some trials to provide examples of each categorization.

Data Analysis

            Statistical significance was tested using a binomial distribution test only considering the conclusive trials, and was evaluated at the .05 alpha level.

RESULTS

This study found that the monkey being groomed (A) displayed dominant behaviors more often than the monkey grooming (B). The difference was statistically significant (p=.004). Out of the conclusive trials, A was noted as dominant 73% of the time and B was noted as dominant 27% of the time (Figure 1).

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A B p-value
Has infant 8 1 .020
Juvenile 5 1 .109
First to begin eating 26 17 .111
Bigger 27 18 .116
Pregnant 11 11 .584
Whiskers 31 36 .768

Table 1:

Differences between A and B, listed in increasing p-value.

DISCUSSION

            This data supports the hypothesis that monkeys who are groomed more display more dominant behaviors. Though the difference between A and B for monkeys with infants was also statistically significant, the sample size (9 monkeys) is too small to generalize beyond this study. This study investigates how social dominance effects aggression and access to food in macaque societies, which could help in finding ways to minimize human/macaque conflict. This is particularly important in areas where long-tailed macaques regularly take or are given food from humans, such as in the Don Chao Poo forest.

Potential problems with this study could arise in observer bias and variations in the testing environment. Trials were observed at different times of day and among different troops. Some monkey pairs may have been tested more than once, and some pairs were more visible and more likely to be chosen as focal animals. Some data was taken after other people had fed the monkeys. Monkeys may have been full and therefore less likely to fight for or eat the rice, regardless of social rank.

Though every effort was made to only categorize unambiguous trials as “A” or “B,” some trials may have been miscategorized. Pre-study practice observing monkeys could help observers better determine what behaviors indicate dominance. Additionally, many trials categorized as “inconclusive” may have included dominant behavior too subtle for observers to recognize. Future studies could first mark individual monkeys, then note their grooming and feeding behaviors over a longer period of time. As humans and macaques have increased contact, new methods may be needed to ensure that humans and macaques can coexist without eradicating macaque populations or exposing humans to disease.

REFERENCES

Do Carmo Jorge, F., 2013. Preliminary study of time-budget, home-range and diet of a long-tailed macaque troop in Phana, Thailand. Phana Macaque Project, 1-11.

Hambali, K., Ismail, A., Md-Zain, B. M., 2012. Daily activity budget of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Kuala Selangor Nature Park. International Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences 12, 47-52.

Karimullah, Anuar, S., 2011. Social organization and mating system of Macaca Fascicularis (long tailed macaques). International Journal of Biology 3, 23-31.

Malaivijitnond, S., Hamada, Y., 2008. Current situation and status of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Thailand. The Natural History Journal of Chulalongkorn University 8, 185-204.

Whiting, L., 2015. Thai Monkey Forest, https://thaimonkeyforest.wordpress.com/ (January 24, 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Long-tailed Macaques, Macaca Fascicularis, monkey forest, Phana Monkey Project, Research, Uncategorized | Leave a comment