Alldays Wildlife and Communities Research Centre (AWCRC) is the second base for the Primate and Predator Project (PPP). The project first began in 2011, set up by Professor Russell Hill through the University of Durham. PPP was initially limited to the Soutpansberg Mountains, but in 2017 the project was expanded by Dr Leah Findlay to include AWCRC as its second base.
The Primate and Predator Project’s three main aims are:
- To assess the role of mountainous regions in biodiversity conservation,
- To understand the behavioural ecology of predator-prey interactions focusing on diurnal primates and their predators as a model system,
- To evaluate the nature and extent of human-wildlife conflict within the local area.
Here at AWCRC, Dr Leah Findlay focuses primarily on PPP’s third aim: to help local people coexist with their local wildlife.
History of the Project at AWCRC
PPP research in Alldays began with Dr Leah Findlay’s PhD thesis. The aim of this project was to understand and address conflict between farmers and wildlife due to crop foraging. Primate crop foraging behaviour has a serious impact on the livelihoods of local farmers and therefore farmers often turn to lethal methods of retaliation. Leah used various techniques, including vegetation transects, interviews, camera trapping, and behavioural observation, to understand the severity of the issue and explore the effectiveness of different deterrents to reduce crop-foraging. The study found that chacma baboons are the dominant raiders and their raiding was most influenced by natural food availability, but many other wildlife species also raid (including vervet monkeys). The project now aims to build on the findings of Leah’s thesis to further understanding crop-foraging behaviours and test other deterrents with the ultimate aim of improving the relationship between farmers and primate species. To deter baboons, research has shown that motion-activated sounds are effective in the short-term but not in the long-term once baboons have habituated to the stimulus. The project has tested a variety of deterrents but a long-term solution has not yet been found and we continue to run different mitigation trials. Whilst electric fences were found to be effective at reducing crop-foraging, it was observed that electric fences were killing multiple species of wildlife and therefore the project is working to assess the severity of impact and potential solutions to this issue.
PPP at AWCRC has also conducted several camera trap surveys aiming to assess carnivore and primate densities. This survey forms part of Jamie McKaughan’s PhD study and the results will be used to help evaluate the scale of potential conflict in the area, to better inform management and conservation management in the area.
For more information on our current and upcoming projects, please visit our volunteer page!