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The importance of human–macaque folklore for conservation in Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Erin P. Rileya1 c1

a1 Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182-6040, USA

Abstract

The emerging field of ethnoprimatology focuses on the conservation implications of ecological and cultural interconnections between humans and other primates. The ethnoprimatological research reported here examined how the Tonkean macaque Macaca tonkeana is situated in the folklore of villagers in Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Data were collected using ethnographic interview techniques. The interviews revealed that villagers envision monkeys and humans as biologically, ecologically and culturally interrelated. The perceived cultural linkages between humans and macaques, however, are more salient among the indigenous To Lindu than among migrants. For many To Lindu the folklore has resulted in a taboo that prevents them harming the macaques, despite the species’ frequent crop-raiding behaviour. The conservation significance of the taboo is therefore the local protection it affords this endemic primate. This research lends support for the incorporation of informal institutions, such as taboos, in the conservation management of protected areas.

(Received March 10 2009)

(Reviewed April 16 2009)

(Accepted April 29 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182-6040, USA. E-mail epriley@mail.sdsu.edu

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