Perceptions of challenges to subsistence agriculture, and crop foraging by wildlife and chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus in unprotected areas in Sierra Leone

Rosa M. Garriga, Ignasi Marco, Encarna Casas-Díaz, Bala Amarasekaran, Tatyana Humle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2017. The 2009-2010 Sierra Leone National Chimpanzee Census Project estimated there was a population of 5,580 chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus distributed across the country, with > 50% occurring outside protected areas. The census also highlighted the significance of competition between people and chimpanzees for resources in areas dominated by farming activities where wild chimpanzees forage on crops. We selected four study areas in two districts in Sierra Leone with high chimpanzee density in habitats dominated by agriculture, far from any protected areas. Our objectives were to assess farmers' perceptions of the main challenges to their agricultural yields, and the wildlife involved in crop foraging, and their perceptions of chimpanzees in particular, as well as the main crop protection measures used. We conducted 257 semi-structured interviews with local farmers across the four study areas. We found that (1) farmers reported wild animals as the main challenge to their agricultural practices; (2) most complaints concerned cane rats Thryonomys swinderianus, which targeted almost all crop types, especially rice and cassava; (3) chimpanzees reportedly targeted 21 of the 23 crop types cultivated, but did so less often than cane rats, focusing particularly on oil palm, cassava and domestic fruits; (4) overall, chimpanzees were not among the top three most destructive animals reported; (5) chimpanzees were generally perceived as being more destructive than dangerous and as having declined since before the civil war; and (6) the main crop protection measure employed was fencing interspersed with traps. Our findings show the importance of investigating farmers' perceptions to inform the development of appropriate conservation strategies aimed at promoting coexistence of people and wildlife in degraded landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-774
JournalOryx
Volume52
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic landscape
  • chimpanzee
  • crop-raiding
  • farming
  • human-wildlife coexistence
  • Pan troglodytes verus

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