Abstract # 60:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 05:00 PM-05:15 PM: Session 12 (Meeting Room 410) Oral Presentation


ATTITUDES AFFECTING THE CONSERVATION OF COMMENSAL POPULATIONS OF SACRED MONKEYS IN TWO NIGERIAN COMMUNITIES

L. R. Baker1,5, O. S. Oludode2, A. A. Tanimola3 and D. L. Garshelis1,4
1University of Minnesota, Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology, St. Paul, MN 55108 , USA, 2University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 3University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, 4Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 5Current address: Baylor University, Dept. of Environmental Science, One Bear Place #97266, Waco, TX 76798-7266, USA
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Sclater’s monkey (Cercopithecus sclateri) is endemic to southern Nigeria, where both deforestation and hunting are acute problems. It does not occur in official protected areas. However, in two Igbo communities (Lagwa and Akpugoeze), the species is considered sacred, linked to indigenous religious beliefs, and thus informally protected by associated taboos. Monkeys live commensally with people, raid farms and gardens, and are widely viewed as pests. Because these populations are important to the conservation of Sclater’s monkey, we conducted structured and semi-structured interviews with residents (n = 410) and community leaders, elders, and shrine priests (n = 21) to identify demographic factors that influenced attitudes toward the monkeys and to evaluate the status and efficacy of the local beliefs that protect them. Logistic-regression analyses indicated that most respondents, particularly Akpugoeze residents, women, and farmers, had negative opinions of the monkeys, mainly due to their crop raiding behavior. Widespread adoption of Christianity also adversely affected attitudes, but some traditional beliefs related to the monkeys persisted. Continued adherence to the no-hunting taboo was primarily attributed to fear of having to pay for a monkey’s burial. Both communities are ideal locations for studying Sclater’s monkey and human-wildlife relationships and conflicts, and for the conservation of bio-cultural diversity. Research and conservation efforts could bring benefits to help offset crop-raiding losses and promote the preservation of unique biological and cultural resources.