Subsistence farmers in the Himalayan Mountains suffer losses as a result of crop raiding by Central Himalayan Langurs (Semnopithecus schistaceus). A detailed questionnaire was administrated to 215 households of six villages to understand their perception of the langurs and the factors governing interactions between them and the local farming community. We used a Waited Rank Index (WRI) to rank the multiple responses obtained according to their importance and we performed a Kruskal-Wallis Test for the analysis of cross-village comparisons. We found significant differences in crop raiding by langurs among these 6 villages in the same valley. Villages with terraced fields had low agricultural productivity, low economic status and high dependency on the surrounding forest. They faced more crop damage compared to villages with flat, open, well irrigated fields, high production, and low dependency on the surrounding forest. The people’s perception of langurs was complex. First responses were largely negative, projecting langurs as agricultural pests. Planting of fodder trees around the terraced fields and over-exploitation of the surrounding forest were perceived as being a reason for increased crop raiding by langurs and other wildlife. This study shows that over exploitation of oak trees, the dominant species in the surrounding forest, and an important fruiting tree for langurs, is the main reason for crop damage.
Himani Nautiyal is a PhD student in the section of Social Systems Evolution at Kyoto University Primate
Research Institute in Japan, under the supervision of Prof. Michael Huffman. For her PhD, Himani is investigating the social system and reproductive strategies of Central Himalayan langurs (Semnopithecus schistaceus) in high altitude forests of Western Himalayas, India. She has been studying their ecology and behaviour at different altitudes, ranging from 1500m to 4000m. For the last four years, she has been funded by grants from the Rufford Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, and the National Geographic Society.