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Chimpanzees in mantraps: lethal crop protection and conservation in Uganda

  • Matthew R. McLennan (a1), David Hyeroba (a2) (a3), Caroline Asiimwe (a4), Vernon Reynolds (a4) and Janette Wallis (a5)...

A main concern of farmers worldwide is how to reduce crop losses to wildlife. Some potentially lethal crop protection methods are non-selective. It is important to understand the impact of such methods on species of conservation concern. Uganda has important populations of Endangered eastern chimpanzees Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. Farmers sometimes use large metal mantraps to guard their fields against crop-raiding wildlife, particularly baboons Papio anubis and wild pigs Potamochoerus sp.. Chimpanzees that range onto farmland also step in these illegal devices and without rapid veterinary invention face severe injury or eventual death. Unlike inadvertent snaring of great apes in African forests, the problem of mantraps in forest–farm ecotones has received little attention. We report 10 cases of entrapped chimpanzees in the cultivated landscape surrounding Uganda's Budongo Forest during 2007–2011, undoubtedly only a portion of the actual number of cases. Mantraps currently present a substantial threat to ape populations in this important conservation landscape. Our data underscore the need for conservation programmes to consider the techniques used by rural farmers to protect their livelihoods from wild animals.

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