A Systematic Survey of Long-Tailed Macaques in Mauritius Using Drone-Mounted Thermal Infrared Cameras

Raphael Reinegger

Other projects

6 Nov 2017

The Feeding Competition between an Invasive Macaque Macaca fascicularis and the Mauritian Flying Fox Pteropus niger

15 Mar 2019

The Impact of the Highly Invasive Macaque Macaca fascicularis on the Mauritian Flying Fox and Forest Regeneration

12 Jun 2020

The Effects of Fruit Availability on Diet Composition and Feeding Behaviour of Invasive Macaca fascicularis in Mauritius: Implications for Conservation of Pteropus Niger and Native Forests

The invasive long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) has multiple detrimental effects on Mauritius’ threatened native biodiversity. Current macaque management mainly involves animal capture, as Mauritius is one of the world’s main exporters of macaques and captured macaques are used to supplement captive breeding colonies of local macaque breeders. However, there have been ethical concerns with past capture activities and the effects of capture rates on the population are unclear, due to lack of population estimates and monitoring tools. Moreover, it is inappropriate to solely rely on capture as a control method, because the number of captured wild macaques required to sustain captive breeding colonies is limited and trade in wild-caught macaques is unethical and prohibited.

Therefore, additional (ethical) control methods are required (e.g., sterilization), but their application requires baseline population estimates and monitoring tools. Obtaining population estimates for macaques is difficult in Mauritius, as conventional primate survey methods (e.g., line transect sampling) may be unfeasible in the highly invaded and dense forests. Thermal imaging with drones could offer an excellent solution. Therefore, we aim to test the suitability of drone-mounted thermal infrared (TIR) cameras for counting macaques in Mauritius and to develop a method for systematically surveying macaques on an island scale, covering different habitat types, using drone-mounted TIR cameras. We will collaborate with two of the main macaque breeders in Mauritius (Noveprim Ltd. and Bioculture Ltd.) and the National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) to discuss possibilities of using our population data and monitoring tools to effectively mitigate negative effects of macaques on native biodiversity and avoid unethical macaque management practices in the future. Our study will provide a baseline for effective future application of (ethical) control methods and is an essential first step in developing clear macaque management plans.

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