Tourist Behavior and Decibel Levels Correlate with Threat Frequency in Tibetan Macaques (Macaca thibetana) at Mt. Huangshan, China
Department or Administrative Unit
Tourism is a common component of management practices directed toward endangered species and habitats, but few studies have explored the potential stressors that may occur to nonhumans as objects of tourism. We examined the impact that tourists have on provisioned, habituated Tibetan macaques (Macaca thibetana). Data were collected during August 2005 at the Valley of the Wild Monkeys (VWM), Mt. Huangshan, China. From a tourist viewing platform, we measured tourist densities, behaviors (for example, foot, hand, and mouth noises; mimicking monkeys; throwing objects or food), and decibel levels. Frequencies of monkey threats in the provisioning area of their range were recorded. The tourists' collective behaviors correlated with monkey threats (Pearson's correlations; r=0.391, p=0.014), as did decibel levels on the viewing platform (r=0.334, p=0.038). No relationship between tourist density and monkey threats, or between particular tourist behaviors and monkey threats, was significant. Based on these results, we recommend park staff be trained on how to discourage noise often associated with tourists and regulate prohibited tourist behaviors, such as feeding the monkeys. Enforcement of park rules will decrease chances that tourist-monkey interactions at VWM will escalate into situations where injuries occur, as has happened at some other macaque tourism sites. Finally, we suggest the development of tourist education materials.
Ruesto, L.A. et al. (2010). Tourist behavior and decibel levels correlate with threat frequency in Tibetan macaques (Macaca thebetana) at Mt. Huangshan, China. Primate Conservation 25, 99-104, DOI: 10.1896/052.025.0115
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This article was originally published in the journal Primate Conservation.