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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Tourism, infant mortality and stress indicators among Tibetan macaques at Huangshan, China

Published source details

Berman C.M., Matheson M.D., Li J.H., Ogawa H. & Ionica C.S. (2014) Tourism, infant mortality and stress indicators among Tibetan macaques at Huangshan, China. Pages 21-43 in: Primate tourism: A tool for conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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Run tourist projects and ensure permanent human presence at site Primate Conservation

One before-and-after study in 1986-2007 in montane evergreen forest in Huangshan, China found that implementing a tourism project for Tibetan macaques Macaca thibetana that included intensive management and food provisioning, increased their stress levels compared to previous periods, with adult mortality and productivity unaffected but greatly increased infant mortality, reaching 100% in some years. Productivity was unaffected (adult females giving birth before tourism: 71%; after tourism management: 73%) but infant mortality increased from 14.8% in 1986-1991 to 54.6% after tourism management was implemented. Infant mortality peaked at 90-100% during intense tourism management but dropped to 16.7% after management suspension in 2003. Infants were killed through wounding by adult macaques, with rates increasing from 0% before tourism to 60% after tourism. Tourism management started in 1992 but intensified in 1994 and 2002 with range restrictions to increase macaque visibility for tourists. Long-term records from multiple researchers were used for data on group membership, births, and deaths from 1986-2007. Two monkey troups were studied and behaviour of macaques and visitors was recorded. Tourists watched macaques from wooden pavilions and feeding or touching them was prohibited but enforcement was lacking and breached even by staff. Introducing tourism was not directly aimed at primate conservation but was intended as a more conservation-oriented project compared to unregulated primate tourism targeting the same species at Mount Emei, China.