Human agriculture and the introduction of domestic dogs are posing a threat to the ability of long-tailed macaques using Burmese stone tools. This was found in a study conducted by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) held in the National Park of Thailand Laem Son.  The research team has advised the Thai authorities in managing their marine national parks should pay more attention to the use of macaques’ stones as tools.

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea Burmese) are a rare variety of monkeys common in Southeast Asia, which are found only in Myanmar and bordering areas of Thailand long tail. In some places, these monkeys use stone tools along the coast to crack hard-shelled invertebrate prey such as rock oysters, sea snails and crabs.

The research team, comprising Michael D. Gumert Assistant Professor, Division of Nanyang Technological University Psychology Professor Yuzuru Hamada Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, and Professor Suchinda Malaivijitnond the Research Unit primates of Chulalongkorn University, discovered that human activities are showing signs that the persistence of stone-use tradition macaques’ may be in jeopardy in the Laem Son national Park, a national marine park along the west coast of Thailand .

“Macaques easily change their feeding behavior when the influence of humans, and they are worried stone using macaques lost their behavior traditional food if development continues illegitimate within the protected park,” said Assistant Professor Gumert having based in Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

In Piak Nam Yai Island, a research team within the Laem Son National Park, have found that human impact is altering macaques and island ecosystems. Of greater concern is the illegal farm development rubber and oil palm plantations in the park is clearing patches of forest. Humans are also competing with the macaques of food, harvesting of bivalves such as clams and oysters in protected coasts.
Another major concern is the harassment of domestic dogs that have been launched to protect farms. Repelling dogs macaques shore, which inhibits its activity using tools. As these macaques are forced to be more vigilant and constantly keep a look out for dogs on the coast, are paying less attention to the learning of tool use patterns of their elders.

“Traditions need security and stability to develop properly, otherwise, costs only become a danger zone that macaques have to learn to avoid, rather than a field of stable learning to develop the use of tools,” he Dr. Gumert regrets.
“If these changes continue, macaques could alter their foraging strategies, and potentially further limit the development of their traditions of stone used in future generations,” said Dr. Gumert.
“Usually, when we think of conservation, we consider the preservation of species, but I think we also have to be concerned with the preservation of rare and interesting behavior produced by the cultures of the animals as well. Many animal species have unique traditions and these traditions it is fragile to shocks. they require good conservation management of habitats that promote these traditions, “he added.
Researchers who have studied the long tail macaques of Burmese living in Piak Nam Yai Island since 2007, found that the macaque population of the island had 192 people in nine groups and 88% of all adults do not use stone tools. Tool use is a part of everyday life of these long-tailed macaques. “They have a fascinating lithic culture,” said Dr Gumert.
“These are the only Burmese macaque monkeys in Asia using stone tools Only two other species of primates, of the several hundred in the world use stone tools -.. Chimpanzees in Africa and in South America capuchin monkeys Knowing existence of primate use of stone tools it has important implications for comparison with the use of tools early hominids and the origins of cultural behavior. Studying traditions allow us to investigate the cultural capacity of the animals, “he added.
“We need to have better protection of these macaques. Otherwise, I worry that lose their natural feeding behavior, like many monkeys in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia already have.”
A serious environmental problem currently affecting Southeast Asia is the great part of the long tail macaque population has acclimated to living with humans and use of our food sources. Expressing concern, said Dr. Gumert, “This is a direct consequence of human development, and we do not want these rare monkeys stone-ranging using the way of so many other macaques whose natural behavior has been destroyed by our actions. Piak Nam Yai Island, must be protected from human activity, since it is a national park land and therefore legally protected natural resources and wildlife. ”
For the future, researchers hope to develop a program of long-term research in Thailand on the tool used by long-tailed macaques that is based at NTU and Chulalongkorn University. Dr Gumert plans to build permanent research sites around these animals and bring students and other scientists to study the behavior and ecology of these macaques.
“We should also explore in Myanmar, because we believe that the behavior may be more common there. Built Macaco tool use was first reported in 1880 in Nature, by Alfred Carpenter, an English sailor. Vio monkeys Tool that used in the Myeik Archipelago then Burma, which has hundreds of islands in the chain. Laem Son National Park is in the southern part of the island chain and probably represents the southern boundary of this behavior. We have to enter Myanmar and see how the macaques have changed since a century ago, “added Dr. Gumert.
“These monkeys are extraordinary and a natural treasure of the Southeast Asian region. I think macaques stone used will become a symbol of protection of the coast here, a symbol of protection in Thailand and the wonderful coastal ecosystems Myanmar, and everything that depends on them, “said Dr. Gumert.