Provisioning and tourism in free-ranging Japanese macaques

  • Published source details Kurita H. (2014) Provisioning and tourism in free-ranging Japanese macaques . Pages 44-56 in: Primate tourism: A tool for conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Implement a ‘no-feeding of wild primates’ policy

Action Link
Primate Conservation

Put up signs to warn people about not feeding primates

Action Link
Primate Conservation
  1. Implement a ‘no-feeding of wild primates’ policy

    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. 

  2. Put up signs to warn people about not feeding primates

    A review in 2010 at multiple sites in Japan found that aggressive interractions between free-ranging Japanese macaques Macaca fuscata and humans decreased after food provision by tourists was prohibited and the message was clearly transmitted. After decades of primate feeding by tourists, the practice was banned and the number of aggressive incidents of macaques on people decreased at multiple sites as well as the macaque road collisions at sites where tourists used to feed monkeys from the cars (no data included). The distance to tourists also increased after the ban (no data provided). No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether these differences were significant. The shop used by tourists to buy food for macaques at Takasakiyama Nature Zoo was closed in 1993 and the feeding of primates was prohibited and advertised using signs and direct advice by rangers during educational talks. In 1952-1972 food provisioning took place at 41 free-ranging monkey parks to attract tourists and reduce crop damage but resulted in rapidly increasing populations, crop and forest damage and the need to control macaques. Food provisioning by tourists was prohibited in the 1990s. 


    (Summarised by: SP)

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