Negative human-macaque interactions
Primatologists describe the various ways and places that human and non-human primates interact as the human-primate interface. Conflict is not an inevitable part of this interface, but it can be an issue with certain species who have adapted particularly well to human-dominated environments. These include vervet monkeys and baboons in parts of Africa, capuchin monkeys in parts of South and Central America, and several macaque species, which are almost exclusive to Asian countries. Such species were once referred to as weed species but other, less loaded terms, such as synanthropic species, are preferred.
Negative interactions between macaques and humans - sometimes referred to as human-macaque conflict - are usually rooted in food. From a monkey’s perspective, humans can be a great source of relatively easy-to-access food, whether it’s provided directly and intentionally (e.g. tourist sites, parks, temples) or indirectly (crop-raiding, bin-raiding, break-ins). While living in close proximity to humans can be very risky for monkeys, access to food sometimes makes it worthwhile.
Both humans and macaques can suffer as a result of negative interactions. There is a two-way risk of disease transmission and injury. Provisioned monkeys can become malnourished or obese, and overdependent on human handouts, their populations increasing beyond sustainability. Human property can be damaged and crops compromised; monkeys are often injured intentionally, captured, or killed.
In places, humans and macaques have been coexisting successfully for many years. In other areas, negative interactions are on the increase. This is usually caused by human encroachment on monkey habitat and the inappropriate release of confiscated animals who had previously been kept by humans.
Methods used to mitgate negative human-macaque interactions should not be considered in isolation. Multiple factors such as habitat quality and availability, and regional societal perceptions and customs must shape any strategy to address conflict. Context is everything!
Causes of negative humans-macaque interactions
Negative interactions between people and macaques are usually interconnected with other issues . For example, when people believe that a species is overabundant, they may be treated as "expendable, and may be captured more often for use as pets. Pet macaques who reach adulthood are often set free by their owners, or illegally kept pets may be confiscated by the authorities and immediately released. Having become habituated to humans means that these monkeys are bolder, more aggressive, or otherwise more visible to the people in the area, thus perpetuating the idea that there are too many macaques.