Implement a ‘no-feeding of wild primates’ policy

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One controlled, before-and-after study in Japan found that several previously increasing Japanese macaque populations declined in size and productivity after limiting and then prohibiting food provisioning.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A controlled before-and-after study in 1950-2010 at multiple sites in Japan found that Japanese macaques Macaca fuscata were rapidly increasing in population size, conflict rate with farmers and forest damage at food-provisioned sites compared to non-provisioned sites, but reducing feeding resulted in lower productivity, population decreases, less crop-raiding and forest damage in the long term. The Takasakiyama population increased from 166 macaques in 1950, before food provisioning, to over 2000 in 1990, but then declined by almost 50% by 2011 after food provisioning was progressively reduced in 1973-1989 and then stopped (data in graphs). Reducing provisioning resulted initially in higher crop damage (data not provided). Birth rate was higher in sites with food provisioning (0.49-0.54 births/female/year) than in non-provisioned sites (0.27-0.35) but productivity declined after provisioning was limited and annual population growth reduced from 13% in 1952-1962 to 4% in 1965-1970, 3% in 1970-1980, 1.1% in 1980-1990 and -0.65% in 1990-2000. In 1952-1972 food provisioning took place at 41 free-ranging monkey parks to attract tourists and reduce crop damage; 30 naturally occurring populations and 11 sites with translocated ‘problem’ macaques.  Provisioned foods (sweet potato, wheat, soybean and peanuts) were far more energy-rich than natural macaque food. Food provisioning by staff was reduced since 1965 and food provisioning by visitors was prohibited in 1993 at Takasakiyama. 

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Junker, J., Kühl, H.S., Orth, L., Smith, R.K., Petrovan, S.O. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Primate Conservation. Pages 431-482 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Primate Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Primate Conservation
Primate Conservation

Primate Conservation - Published 2017

Primate Synopsis

What Works 2021 cover

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