Tue, 11 Oct 1994

Hunting threatens N. Sulawesi's macaques

By Fachruddin Mangunjaya

JAKARTA (JP): Hunting is having a devastating effect upon the wild population of the crested black macaque (Macaca nigra) outside of the Tangkoko Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi.

"This monkey, which is endemic to Sulawesi, is being hunted primarily for food, as well as for pets," Robert Lee, a student of anthropology of the University of Oregon, who conducted a survey in the Manembonembo Nature Reserve, said.

His survey, which was presented at the XVth International Congress of Primatology in Kuta, Bali, in July indicated that this species is threatened not only by hunting and live trapping, but also by habitat disturbances.

The Manembonembo Nature Reserve (6,500 hectares) constitutes one of the largest areas the Macaca nigra occupies outside the contiguous reserves of Tangkoko-Duasaudara-Batuangus in North Sulawesi.

A population survey conducted by Sugarjito in 1988 showed there were 2,502 of the macaques in Manembonembo. Lee's surveys in 1993 and 1994 concluded only 1,486 remain.

"This shows an overall decrease by 59 percent in six years," Lee says.

"If the PHPA forest concessionaire does not patrol this area, the population will be extinct very soon," he adds.

Lee found that on average one household around the Manembonembo area eats approximately six monkeys per year. Up to 72 percent of the respondents who live in the villages surrounding Manembonembo said they consumed monkeys. That means the villages around Manembonembo consume 1,240 Macaca nigra per year, he said.

However, Lee stated that this is only a preliminary study.

The Indonesian government has declared the Macaca nigra a protected species, so why are the crested black macaques hunted at such a high rate?

Lee has given three reasons. First, the current law enforcement by the PHPA concessionaire is not sufficient. Whereas patrolling needs to take place on a systematic basis, there is the problem of shortage of personnel, improper training and lack of incentives.

Second, it is not surprising that the local people eat the monkey given their economic circumstances. Unless there is a program to provide cheap courses of meat, hunting will continue.

Third, protein requirement is not all that is involved.

"They eat monkey because they do not realize the consequences of their behavior and people do not know that various animals are protected," Lee said.

F. Mangunjaya is managing editor of Conservation Indonesia Journal, WWF Indonesia Program, Jakarta.