Knowledge, attitudes and practices of local people on Siberut Island (West-Sumatra, Indonesia) towards primate hunting and conservation

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Marcel Quinten
Farquhar Stirling
Stefan Schwarze
Yoan Dinata
Keith Hodges


The Mentawai Archipelago (West-Sumatra, Indonesia) harbours a wealth of endemic animals and plants including six unique primate species, all threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Although hunting is known to be widespread, little systematic work has been carried out to examine its scale and impact on Mentawai´s primate populations. Here we report an island-wide survey carried out on Siberut, the archipelago’s largest island, to assess hunting behaviour with respect to the four locally-occurring primate species, as well as the attitudes of indigenous inhabitants to resource utilization. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in mid-2012 with 390 respondents from 50 villages using a structured questionnaire. Overall, ca. one quarter of the respondents (24%) are still active hunters, generally targeting Simias concolor (77%), Macaca siberu (71%) and Presbytis siberu (68%); Hylobates klossii is rarely hunted (3%). Mostly, a single animal is captured per hunt, with average numbers per three months ranging from 1.9-2.3 individuals (for S. concolor, M. siberu and P. siberu). We found that in many aspects our data did not differ between the protected area (Siberut National Park) and the rest of the island, although hunting was significantly more prevalent within the protected area’s boundaries. Our approximation of annual offtake leads us to conclude that no less than 4,800 primates are taken every year (min. 6.4 % of the population). We provide recommendations on how to reduce hunting as a driver for population decline.

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Author Biographies

Marcel Quinten, German Primate Center

Marcel C. Quinten is a conservation biologist working together with the German Primate Center and the Siberut Conservation Programme on the preservation of the endemic primates of the Mentawai Archipelago. 

Farquhar Stirling, Fauna & Flora International

Farquhar Stirling has worked in survey research for more than 40 years, much of that time in Indonesia, and was managing director of Indonesia’s largest research firm. He previously designed and analyzed audience research surveys for BBC world service radio.

Stefan Schwarze, University of Goettingen

Stefan Schwarze is an agricultural economist currently working as an assistant professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Goettingen. Particular research interests include the adoption and impact of agricultural technologies.

Yoan Dinata, Fauna & Flora International

Yoan Dinata is a wildlife ecologist from Indonesia with a research focus on the ecology and conservation of the Sumatran Tiger in Kerinci Seblat National Park and West Sumatra; since 2009 he has been running the Kloss Gibbon project of Fauna and Flora International in the Mentawai Islands.

Keith Hodges, German Primate Center

J. Keith Hodges has research interests in evolutionary endocrinology and comparative reproduction in primates.


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