Macaque-Human interactions and the societal perceptions of macaques in Singapore

John Chih Mun Sha, Michael D. Gumert, Benjamin P.Y.H. Lee, Lisa Jones-Engel, Sharon Chan, Agustín Fuentes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Humans and long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) interface in several locations in Singapore. We investigated six of these interface zones to assess the level of conflict between the two species. We observed macaque-to-human interactions and distributed questionnaires to residents and visitors of nature reserves. We observed an average of two macaque-to-human interactions per hour at the sites, which included affiliative or submissive behaviors (46.9%), aggression (19.1%), taking food and other items (18.5%) searching bins, cars, and houses (13.4%), and nonaggressive contact (2.1%). Two-thirds of interactions occurred when a human was carrying food or food cues, and one-quarter occurred when a human provoked macaques. Only 8% of interactions occurred without a clear human-triggered context. Our interview showed one-third of respondents experienced nuisance problems from macaques. They had items taken from them (50.5%) and received threats (31.9%). Residents reported more nuisance problems than visitors, and their perceptions toward macaques differed. Residents were more aware of the consequences of food provisioning and that there were regulations against feeding. Residents fed macaques less and held more negative sentiments toward macaques. Nearly half of the interviewed people held neutral attitudes toward macaques and only 26.2% of respondents thought conflict with macaques warranted urgent action. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents supported education programs to ameliorate human-macaque conflict, and less than 15% supported removing or eradicating macaques. 87.6% felt that it is importance to conserve and protect macaques. Our results show that human-macaque conflict exists in Singapore, but that it may not be severe. Human behavior is largely responsible for macaque-to-human interactions, and thus could be lessened with management of human behavior in interface zones (i.e. restrict food carrying and provocation). Moreover, our interviews shows people living in Singapore value macaques, do not wish them entirely removed, prefer education-based solutions, and consider conservation and protection of them important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-839
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Commensalism
  • Human dimensions of wildlife management
  • Human-macaque conflict
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Singapore


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