Saturday, 17 August 2013

Burmese Long-Tailed Macaques' Use of Stone Tools Is Being Threatened by Human Activity in Thailand

Aug. 14, 2013 — Human farming and the introduction of domestic dogs are posing a threat to the ability of Burmese long-tailed macaques to use stone tools. This was found in a study led by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) carried out at Thailand's Laem Son National Park. The research team has advised Thailand's authorities that in the management of their marine national parks they should pay closer attention to macaques' use of stones as tools.

Burmese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea) are a rare variety of the common long-tailed macaques of Southeast Asia, found only in Myanmar and bordering areas of Thailand. In a few locations, these monkeys use stone tools along the coasts to crack hard-shelled invertebrate prey, such as rock oysters, sea snails, and crabs.

The research team, comprising Assistant Professor Michael D. Gumert from Nanyang Technological University's Division of Psychology, Professor Yuzuru Hamada of Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute, and Professor Suchinda Malaivijitnond of Chulalongkorn University' Primate Research Unit, discovered that human activities are showing signs that the persistence of the macaques' stone-use tradition may be in jeopardy at Laem Son National Park, a marine national park along the western coast of Thailand.

"Macaques easily change their feeding behaviour when influenced by humans, and we are concerned stone-using macaques will lose their traditional feeding behaviour if illegitimate development continues within the protected park," said Assistant Professor Gumert, who is based at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

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