Investigating Sri Lanka’s human-monkey conflict and developing a strategy to mitigate the problem

Main Article Content

Surendranie Judith Cabral
Tharaka Prasad
Thulmini Pubudika Deeyagoda
Sanjaya Nuwan Weerakkody
Ashwika Nadarajah
Rasanayagam Rudran


Human-monkey conflicts reached crisis proportions in Sri Lanka over the last 10 years due to extensive deforestation to promote rapid economic growth and agricultural expansion.  This resulted in complaints from the public with demands for Sri Lanka’s Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) to solve the problem without delay.  Caught between political pressure and public outcry, the DWC’s efforts to deal with the crisis gradually fell into disarray.  To overcome this, the SPEARS Foundation--, offered to help the DWC to develop a strategic plan to deal with human-monkey conflicts.  This plan was developed through a series of workshops and submitted to the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife in March 2016 for approval.  During and after the development of the strategy, some of its key elements were implemented by the SPEARS Foundation.  One of these elements was documenting details of human-monkey conflict from letters of complaint received by DWC.  This information was used to initiate a series of field surveys to identify sites suitable for long-term protection of monkeys and other wildlife.  When these areas are identified they would be designated as community conservation areas (CCAs), and managed by local stakeholders on a sustainable basis under the supervision of DWC.  Establishing CCAs is a new paradigm for Sri Lanka to conserve wildlife while benefitting local communities.  Its details were presented in the strategic plan submitted to the government.  In this paper, we present the information obtained from the letters of complaint received by DWC and discuss its details.  In subsequent reports, we will discuss the results of our field surveys to identify areas suitable for the establishment of CCAs.


Article Details



DeCaro, D. & M. Stokes (2008). Social-psychological principles of community-based conservation and conservancy motivation: attaining goals within an autonomy-supportive environment. Conservation Biology 22(6): 1443–51;

Dela, J.D.S. (2011). Impact of monkey-human relationships and habitat change on Semnopithecus vetulus nestor in human modified habitats. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka 39(4): 365–82;

Department of Census and Statistics (2012). Census of population and housing 2011. Department of Census and Statistics, P O Box 563, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Distefano, E. (2005). Human-Wildlife Conflict Worldwide : Collection of Case Studies , Analysis of Management Strategies and Good Practices. Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD), Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy.

Dittus, W. (2012a). An online forum for exchanging ideas for dealing with issues of pest monkeys. Journal of Primatology 1: 1–2.

Dittus, W. (2012b). Problems with pest monkeys: myths and solutions. Loris 26(3&4): 18–23.

Dittus, W. (2013a). Subspecies of Sri Lankan mammals as units of biodiversity conservation, with special reference to the primates. Ceylon Journal of Science (Biological Sciences) 2(2): 1–27;

Dittus, W. (2013b). Toque macaque , pp.170–86. In: Johnsingh, A.J.T. & N. Manjrekar (eds.) Mammals of South Asia Volume 1, 1st Edition. Universities Press (India) Private Limited.

Dittus, W., S. Molur & K.A.I. Nekaris (2008). Trachypithecus vetulus ssp. nestor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T39844A10276249. Downloaded on 24 November 2016.

Germano, J.M., K.J. Field, R.A. Griffiths, S. Clulow, J. Foster, G. Harding & R.R. Swaisgood (2015). Mitigation-driven translocations : are we moving wildlife in the right direction? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(2): 100–105;

Gunatilleke, A.I.A.U.N. & C.V.S. Gunatilleke (1990). Distribution of floristic richness and its conservation in sri lanka. Conservation Biology 4(1): 21–31.

Hockings, K. & T. Humle (2009). Best Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Mitigation of Conflict between Humans and Great Apes. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG), Gland, Switzerland, 40pp.

Hoffman, T.S. & M.J. O’Rian (2014). Monkey management : using spatial ecology to understand the extent and severity of human- baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Ecology and Society 17(3): 13;

Hsu, M.J., C. Kao & G. Agoramoorthy (2009). Interactions between visitors and Formosan macaques ( Macaca cyclopis ) at Shou-Shan Nature Park, Taiwan. American Journal of Primatology 71: 214–22;

Imam, E., H.S.A. Yahya & I. Malik (2002). A successful mass translocation of commensal Rhesus monkeys Macaca mulatta in Vrindaban, India. Oryx 36 (1): 87–93;

Lederach, J. & M. Maiese (2009). Conflict transformation: a circular journey with a purpose. New Routes 14: 7–11.

Mckinney, T. (2015). Species-specific responses to tourist interactions by White-faced Capuchins (Cebus imitator) and Mantled Howlers (Alouatta palliata) in a Costa Rican Wildlife Refuge. International Journal of Primatology 35: 573–589;

Mendis, B.C.G. & A. Dangolla (2016). Human-monkey (Macaca sinica) conflict in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Veterinary Journal 63 (2B): 35–37.

Mishra, C., P. Allen, T. McCarthy, M.D. Madhusudan, A. Bayarjargal & H.H.T. Prins (2003). The role of incentive programs in conserving the snow leopard. Conservation Biology 17(6): 1512–1520;

Munthali, S.M. (2007). Transfrontier conservation areas : integrating biodiversity and poverty alleviation in southern Africa.

Natural Resources Forum 31: 51–60.

Nahallage, C.A.D. & M.A. Huffman (2013). Macaque-human interactions in past and present-day Sri Lanka, pp. 135–148. In: Radhakrishna, S., M.A. Huffman, & A. Sinha (eds.). The Macaque Connection: Cooperation and Conflict Between Humans and Macaques. Springer Science & Business Media.

Newsome, D. & K. Rodger (2008). To feed or not to feed : a contentious issue in wildlife tourism, pp. 255–70. In: Lunney, D., A. Munn & W. Meikle (eds.). Too Close for Comfort: Contentious Issues in Human-Wildlife Encounters. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW, Australia.

Phillips, W.W.A. (1981). Mannual of the Mammals of Sri Lanka - 2nd Revised Edition. Wildlife and Nature Protection Society, Colombo.

QGIS Development Team (2015). QGIS geographic information system. Open Source Geospatial Foundation Project.

Rudran, R. (2015). Western Purple-faced Langur Semnopithecus vetulus nestor Bennett, 1833. pp. 63–66. In: Schwitzer, C., R.A. Mittermeier, A.B. Rylands, F. Chiozza, E.A. Williamson & J. Wallis (eds.) Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2014–2016. IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG),

International Primatological Society (IPS), Conservation International, (CI), and Bristol Zoological Society, Arlington VA.

Rudran, R., H.G.S.K. Dayananda, D.D. Jayamanne & D.G.R. Sirimanne (2013). Food habits and habitat use patterns of sri lanka’s Western Purple-faced langur. Primate Conservation 27(1): 99–108;

Rudran, R. & S. Kotagama (2016). Strategy to conserve and coexist with Sri Lanka’s monkeys [abstract], p. 17. In: 5th Asian Primate Symposium. Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka: APS-2016 and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

Rudran, R. & S.J. Cabral (2017). Semnopithecus vetulus Erxleben, 1777, pp. 40–43. In: Schwitzer, C., R.A. Mittermeier, A.B. Rylands, F. Chiozza, E.A Williamson, E.J. Macfie, J Wallis & A. Cotton (eds.). Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2016–2018. IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG), International Primatological Society (IPS), Conservation International (CI), and Bristol Zoological Society, Arlington, VA.

Sabbatini, G., M. Stammati, M.C.H. Tavares, M.V. Giuliani & E. Visalberghi (2006). Interactions between humans and Capuchin monkeys ( Cebus libidinosus ) in the Parque Nacional de Brasília , Brazil. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 97: 272–283;

Singh, M., I. Malik, W. Dittus, A. Sinha, J. Kirkpatrick, A. Belsare, S.R. Walker, S. Molur, B. Wright, J. Lenin & S. Chaudhuri (2005). Action Plan for the Control of Commensal, Non-human Primates in Public Places. Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore, India, 16pp

Waylen, K.A., A. Fischer, P.J.K. McGowan, S.J. Thirgood & E.J. Milner-Gulland (2010). Effect of local cultural context on the success of community-based conservation interventions. Conservation Biology 24(4): 1119–11129;

Weerakoon, D.K. (2012). The taxonomy and conservation status of mammals in Sri Lanka, pp. 134–144. In: Weerakoon, D.K. & S. Wijesundara (eds.). The National Red List 2012 Sri Lanka; Conservation Status of Fauna and Flora. Ministry of Environment, Colombo, Sri Lanka, viii+476pp.