Provisioned groups of macaques can quickly grow beyond sustainability, especially in places where resources are scarce, such as city parks and urban neighbourhoods. Populations can also appear to be sizeable, even overabundant, simply because they may congregate in areas that are highly visible to humans. Yet even for the most visible macaque species, reliable and up-to-date population data are not available either overall or in specific locales.
See public perceptions.
Governments, communities or other groups sometimes decide that population control is necessary. Population control can be implemented in various ways, depending on the desired outcome, and can be either lethal (culling) or non-lethal. Lethal methods are often undesirable both culturally, and for conservation reasons.
Population control measures can be politically sensitive when endangered species are concerned. Similarly, religious or other cultural traditions may result in objections from local people.
Mitigating overpopulation (non-lethal methods)
The type of and extent to which contraception used is dependent on the goal; to eradicate an unwanted population, 100% of the population must be neutered. Contraception for the purposes of controlling but maintaining a population is an ongoing commitment. Most often, such programmes involve the capture, surgical sterilisation and release of a proportion of the population. Health checks can be carried out simultaneously.
Translocation - moving the macaques somewhere else - is a non-lethal method, although often survival rates are not tracked. Relocation sites must be chosen with great care; there is great potential to introduce or increase the problem in the new area. If macaques are translocated to an area where populations of the same or similar species exist, additional competition for resources could create a welfare problem for all individuals involved. If they are translocated to an area without macaques, the introduced monkeys could cause ecological harm.
If macaques are attracted to an area in large numbers because of the availability of food, enforced prohibitions on feeding could reduce the area’s attractiveness to the macaques and therefore help mitigate conflict.
Mitigating overpopulation (lethal methods)
Capture for export to research facilities
The capture of wild primates for export to research facilities (or for confinement on monkey “farms” that conduct breeding for research) presents multiple ethical problems. Even those species generally considered to be overabundant face the threat of extinction in the wild. Welfare problems abound during capture, transit and confinement. Capture for export is considered here to be a lethal method because for many individuals death is the direct outcome.
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Culling (killing) also raises ethical concerns. Even when local people consider macaques to be “pests” and want something done to control them, they often do not support culling. Culling might be abhorrent to local culture or religious tradition.It is also often frowned upon internationally. It is questionable whether the humane culling of wild macaques is even possible, given the complex web of individual relationships that exist within their societies, their emotionality, and their exceptional intelligence.
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