Primates are kept as pets for various reasons including as indicators of wealth. Ownership of primates can also be influenced by religion. In Madagascar, thousands of lemurs are kept as pets, but the roles of wealth and religion in the ownership of captive lemurs have not been explored. We use quantitative and qualitative data to examine these aspects of ownership. Quantitative data were collected (July to August 2016) in households (n = 596) of 12 urban and rural towns in Madagascar using semi-structured interviews. International standards for research ethics were followed. Research was approved by an ethics oversight committee. We also opportunistically visited 13 religious facilities. Qualitative data were used to frame the context of the quantitative data. We found that pet lemur owners do not speak about their lemurs as a symbol of wealth, but non-owners associate pet lemurs with wealth. Therefore, status/wealth may be a motivating factor in the ownership of pet lemurs. We also found evidence that Catholic entities in Madagascar sometimes take in captive lemurs when the owner can no longer care for the animal (be-ing viewed as animal-friendly institutions). However, we did not find evidence of religion (institutional or traditional) influencing the ownership of pet lemurs.
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... Given special permission by the authorities, solicitors (or touts) exploit macaques as photo props(Figure 3). The square is also where both national and international visitors initiate the purchase of wild-caught infant macaques despite this activity being illegal(Bergin et al., 2018).On the demand side, many cultures have historically maintained primates as pets for social-status seeking(Márquez-Arias et al., 2017;Shanee, 2012) and medicinal and spiritual reasons (e.g.,Nekaris, Shepherd, Starr, & Nijman, 2010;Nijman & Nekaris, 2014;Reuter et al., 2018;Waters, Bell, & Setchell, 2018). Moreover, international demand is driven by greater access to wealth, advertising on the internet(Bergin et al., 2018) and commercialization in films and videos(Aldrich, 2018;Nekaris, Campbell, Coggins, Rode, & Nijman, 2013). ...
... Design collaborative researchMeijaard et al. (2012) encouraged the development of collaborative projects that integrate experts in related fields and provide largescale systematic information on primate population size, density and habitat requirements. Collaborative research may facilitate community involvement and provide insight into cultural perspectives on the pet trade(Nekaris et al., 2010;Reuter & Schaefer, 2017;Reuter et al., 2018;Waters et al., 2018). If the possession of exotic pets is embedded in traditional cultural attitudes, then understanding the source of the tradition may be useful in providing explanations to deter it. ...
This commentary emerged from a panel presentation at the International Primatological Society Congress in Nairobi, Kenya, 2018. The goal was to provide regional updates on the status of primate removal from habitat countries, especially for the pet trade, and develop guidelines that could help primatologists address this critical problem. The trade in live primates includes those used as pets, in entertainment, and as subjects of biomedical experimentation, but here we focus on those primates destined for the pet trade. Such transactions are a hugely lucrative business, impacting hundreds of thousands of individuals annually and affecting the survival of wild populations. Being intimately familiar with primate social behavior, life history and biology, primatologists, whether they work with captive or wild primates, are in a unique position to understand the nature of the trade and attempt to counter its effects. In addition to updating the status of the primate pet trade, we provide recommendations that may help primatologists formulate a plan to deal, locally and regionally, with illegal trafficking in live primates. General guidelines include increasing awareness of local customs, policies and laws; developing collaborative research opportunities for local people; engaging in training/informational opportunities; and instructing on how to take action when encountering illegally-trafficked primates.
... This might happen, for example, in areas where pet lemur ownership is primarily motivated by money-making from the tourism industry (e.g. lemurs have to be generally kept in a non-concealed place for tourists to appreciate them) though social status and fear of enforcement could also be factors . ...
... Because reasons for ownership differ  and because many pet lemurs are not kept in areas visible to the general public (e.g. not kept for tourists or others to see ), we hypothesize that rates of ownership do not broadly differ by province across the country, even if there are areas that might seem like 'hotspots' simply because lemurs in those areas are highly visible. ...
Primates are extracted from the wild for the pet trade across the world. In Madagascar, lemurs are kept as illegal pets and an understanding of lemur pet ownership at the national level is lacking. In 2013 and 2016, we undertook a national survey in 11 of Madagascar's 22 administrative regions (n = 28 towns) with 1,709 households. To our knowledge, this is the first national survey of the household ownership of pet primates in a country where they are endemic. In the 1.5 years prior to being surveyed, 8% ± 4% (towns as replicates) of respondents had seen a captive lemur while a further 0.7% ± 0.5% of respondents had owned one personally. We estimate that 33,428 ± 24,846 lemurs were kept in Malagasy households in the six months prior to our survey efforts, with 18,462 ± 12,963 of these pet lemurs estimated in urban household alone. Rates of lemur ownership did not differ by province but increased with the human population of a town and with the popularity of the town on Flickr (a proxy indicator for tourism). We found that the visibility of pet lemur ownership did not differ across the country, but it did increase with the size of the town and popularity with tourists. Areas with visible pet lemurs were not always the areas with the highest rates of pet lemur ownership, highlighting that many pet lemurs are hidden from the general public. Our study highlights the need for conservation programs to consider both the proportion of inhabitants that own pet lemurs and the total number of lemurs that are potentially being kept as pets in those towns. We close by noting that for some species, even just a small amount of localized live extraction for pet ownership could be enough to cause localized population extinctions over time. Moreover, an urgent response is needed to combat a recent and alarming rise in illegal exploitation of biodiversity across Madagascar.
... However, illegal harvest of lemurs still occurs to supply demand for lemur meat in urban areas, though demand is thought to be low based on current understanding of lemur harvests gathered from interviews (B1; C2) (Randrianandrianina et al., 2010). Fady might influence the ownership of pet lemurs throughout urban and rural areas of Madagascar, particularly prohibition of keeping lemurs as pets, but further research is needed to understand this phenomenon (B3; B5) (see Reuter et al., 2016aReuter et al., , 2018. ...
Globally, non-human primates face mounting threats due to unsustainable harvest by humans. There is a need to better understand the diverse drivers of primate harvest and the complex social-ecological interactions influencing harvest in shared human-primate systems. Here, we take an interdisciplinary, systems approach to assess how complex interactions among primate biological and ecological characteristics and human social factors affect primate harvest. We apply our approach through a review and synthesis of the literature on lemur harvest in Madagascar, a country with one of the highest primate species richness in the world coupled with high rates of threatened primate species and populations in decline. We identify social and ecological factors affecting primate harvest, including the characteristics of lemurs that may make them vulnerable to harvest by humans; factors describing human motivations for (or deterrents to) harvest; and political and governance factors related to power and accessibility. We then discuss social-ecological interactions that emerge from: (1) the prevalence of informal institutions (e.g., cultural taboos), (2) adoption of human predatory strategies, (3) synergies with habitat use and habitat loss, and (4) interactions among regional- and local-scale factors (multi-level interactions). Our results illustrate that social-ecological interactions influencing lemur harvest in Madagascar are complex and context-specific, while influenced by a combination of interactions between species-specific characteristics and human social factors. These context-specific interactions may be also influenced by local-level cultural practices, land use change, and effects from regional-level social complexities such as political upheaval and food insecurity. We conclude by discussing the importance of identifying and explicitly accounting for nuances in underlying social-ecological systems and putting forth ideas for future research on primate harvest in shared human-primate systems, including research on social-ecological feedbacks and the application of Routine Activities Theory.
... Furthermore, in 2016, a short clip of a habituated ring-tailed lemur Lemur catta was circulated, reaching over 20 million viewers within a few weeks. This post similarly led to a marked increase in search trends for 'lemurs' but also to an increase in direct references to 'wanting a lemur' pet (Clarke et al. 2019; see also Reuter et al. 2018). ...
We explored the influence of film and media on the exotic pet trade using the context of the ‘Harry Potter effect’ and the owl trade in Thailand as a case study. We compared the owl trade between market surveys dating from 1966 to 2019 in Bangkok’s Chatuchak market, to online surveys from 2017 to 2019. Using generalised linear models, we examined whether prices offered for owls could be explained by variables linked to whether the species are featured in the Harry Potter franchise, body size, tameness and temporal/seasonal harvesting. We also tested for an anthropogenic Allee effect by examining the relationship between the availability of owls and asking price. Owls never exceeded 1.3% of the total number of birds for sale in Chatuchak animal market, and we did not observe any owls during our visits in 2011, 2018 and 2019. In contrast, we recorded 311 individuals of 17 species from 206 posts on the online marketplace on Facebook. Owls are offered for sale during all months of each year surveyed but more so from February to April; availability did influence price. We found that price was significantly explained by body mass, but not by association with the Harry Potter franchise or by tameness. We found that owls have become more popular as pets, and as they are potentially sourced from the wild, this inevitably causes conservation concerns. Owls are just one of many taxa suffering from the unregulated and accessible marketplace that social media sites offer to vendors.
... Global wildlife trade for the exchange of luxury goods, food consumption, traditional medicine and pet trade is considered as one of the leading threats to biodiversity conservation (Challender, Harrop, & Macmillan, 2014;Rosen & Smith, 2010;Tingley, Harris, Hua, Wilcove, & Ding, 2017). Trade of exotic, non-domesticated wildlife as exotic pets has grown substantially (Bush, Baker, & Macdonald, 2014;Reuter et al., 2018). Exotic pets can be defined as animals that are non-indigenous or non-native, and/or non-domesticated (Warwick et al., 2018). ...
The impact of the wildlife trade has been accentuated in the Internet age where social media platforms have offered accessible and consumer-friendly avenues in the way species are legally and illegally traded. We explored the exotic pet trade on a social media platform, Facebook, in Thailand. Over the 18-month period, we recorded 761 posts of primates and carnivores’ species, totalling 1190 individuals from 42 species.
Using Generalised Linear Models, we developed hypotheses to explain price dynamics. Variables include, species’ native status (if species are found in Thailand), domestic protection (if species are protected under Thai wildlife laws), international regulation (species CITES listing) and species threatened status (species IUCN Red Listing). Overall, we found evidence of an anthropogenic Allee effect where exotic imports from South America and Africa were significantly more expensive than native species (Wald χ² = 969.72, df = 13, p < 0.05). Trade in these legally imported non-native wildlife species contributed to 11% of posts. Illegal trade of native species contributed to 66% of posts. When considering only native species, trends toward an anthropogenic Allee effect were observed where protected illegal species called for higher prices than legal species.
Illegal wildlife trade on Facebook was blatant, easily accessible and unchecked. Discrepancies in current domestic wildlife legislation lead to intentional evasion of laws and a lack of enforcement. Disproportionate desire for rare or protected species encourages a cycle of exploitation that threatens species to extinction.
... We show here, the unintentional sharing of images/video featuring lemurs in non-natural settings and close to humans, can have indirect impacts on how English-speaking people perceive these wild animals. This may also be the case in Madagascar, where there is already published anecdotal evidence that 'selfies' posted with pet lemurs (often on Facebook) can show wealth or are considered 'cool' . Therefore, any conservationists, primatologists, and/or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should be aware of this context when they put information about lemurs on social media, as there is the risk that the information is misperceived both by English and non-English speaking audiences. ...
Content shared on social media platforms can impact public perceptions of wildlife. These perceptions, which are in part shaped by context (e.g. non-naturalistic setting, presence of a human), can influence people’s desires to interact with or acquire wild animals as pets. However, few studies have examined whether this holds true for wild animals featured in viral videos. This study reports on opportunistic data collected on Twitter before, during, and after a video that featured a habituated ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), called “Sefo”, in southern Madagascar went ‘viral’ (i.e. circulated rapidly on the internet). Our dataset of 13,953 tweets (from an 18.5-week time period in early 2016) referencing lemurs was collected using targeted keywords on the Twitonomy Service. We identified 613 individual tweets about people wanting a lemur as a pet. In addition, 744 tweets that were captured in our dataset linked to the Sefo viral video. We found that as the number of tweets about the viral video increased, so did the number of tweets where an individual wanted to have a lemur as a pet. Most tweets (91%) did not make reference to a specific species of lemur, but when they did, they often (82%) referenced ring-tailed lemurs (L. catta), ruffed lemurs (Varecia spp.), and mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.). This study serves as a case study to consider how viral content can impact how wild animals are perceived. We close by noting that social media sites like Twitter, which are increasingly providing their users with news and information, should carefully consider how information about wild animals is shared on their platforms, as it may impact animal welfare.
The pet trade is a major driver of both biodiversity loss and the introduction of invasive alien species. Building a comprehensive understanding of the pet trade would improve prediction of conservation and biosecurity threats, with the aim to prevent further negative impacts. We used South Australia’s native wildlife permit reporting system as a data‐rich example of a vertebrate pet market, spanning 590 distinct taxa across 105 families of terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians). Using a piecewise Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) approach, we tested the influence of 11 a priori variables relating to pets (e.g., species traits), pet owners (e.g., socioeconomic metrics), and regulatory systems (e.g., permit requirements) on the quantities of captive pet keeping, breeding, trading, and escapes into the wild. Birds and reptiles with higher annual fecundity were more likely to be kept in captivity and birds with larger adult mass were more likely to be sold. Species with more stringent permit requirements were possessed and escaped, in lower abundances. Pet keeping was weakly correlated with regions of lower human population densities and higher unemployment rates, yet all socioeconomic variables were ultimately poor at explaining trade dynamics. More escapes occurred in regions that possessed larger quantities of pets, further emphasising the role of propagule pressure in the risk of pet escapes. Synthesis and applications: Species traits are a strong determinant of native pet trade dynamics, yet permit systems also play a key role in de‐incentivising undesirable trade practices. While our research highlighted the positive potential of trade regulatory systems, we recommend that consistent permit category criteria are established to reduce trade in threatened species as well as invasive alien species of high biosecurity risk. Implementation of such systems is broadly needed across a greater diversity of wildlife markets and jurisdictions. Synthesis and applications: Species traits are a strong determinant of native pet trade dynamics, yet permit systems also play a key role in de‐incentivising undesirable trade practices. While our research highlighted the positive potential of trade regulatory systems, we recommend that consistent permit category criteria are established to reduce trade in threatened species as well as invasive alien species of high biosecurity risk. Implementation of such systems is broadly needed across a greater diversity of wildlife markets and jurisdictions.
The shared evolutionary histories and anatomical similarities between humans and non-human primates create dynamic interconnections between these alloprimates. In this foreword to Folia Primatologica's special issue on "Ethnographic Approaches in Primatology," we review the ethnographic method and existing literature at the intersection of primatology and ethnography. We summarize, compare and contrast the 5 contributions to this special issue to highlight why the human-non-human primate interface is a compelling area to investigate via ethnographic approaches and to encourage increased incorporation of ethnography into the discipline of primatology. Ethnography is a valuable and increasingly popular tool with its use no longer limited to anthropological practitioners investigating traditional, non-Western peoples. Scholars from many disciplines now use ethnographic methods to investigate all members of our globalised world, including non-humans. As our closest living relatives, non-human primates (hereafter "primates") are compelling subjects and thus appear in a range of contexts within ethnographic investigations. The goal of this special issue is to highlight the trajectory of research at the intersection of primatology and ethnography and to illustrate the importance of ethnographic methods for the advancement of primatology as a discipline.
Rural households in the Mahafaly region of south-western Madagascar have to contend with low economic development and a risky natural environment. A survey of 665 households in the region was designed to address three research questions: what is the relationship between diversification of income sources and household wealth; how does education influence access to non-farm income sources and diversification; and how does household wealth and diversification affect well-being? The results show that the overwhelming majority of households follow a diversification strategy. Household wealth is associated with larger fields, greater crop diversity and higher diversification of income source categories. Education enhances access to high-return, non-farm income sources. Self-reported well-being is positively affected by both wealth and diversification. Better education and measures to improve inhabitants’ existing strategies for compensation of yield losses in farming are crucial for securing local livelihoods in the face of decreasing precipitation due to climate change.
Overexploitation is a significant threat to biodiversity, with live capture of millions of animals annually. An improved understanding of live capture of primates is needed, especially for Madagascar’s threatened lemurs. Our objectives were to provide the first quantitative estimates of the prevalence, spatial extent, correlates and timing of lemur ownership, procurement methods, within-country movements, and numbers and duration of ownership. Using semi-structured interviews of 1,093 households and 61 transporters, across 17 study sites, we found that lemur ownership was widespread and affected a variety of taxa. We estimate that 28,253 lemurs have been affected since 2010. Most lemurs were caught by owners and kept for either short (≤ 1 week) or long (≥ 3 years) periods. The live capture of lemurs in Madagascar is not highly organized but may threaten several endangered species.
INTRODUCTION Wild primate populations the world over are endangered. Habitat loss and the bushmeat trade are widely acknowledged as the most significant threats to wild pri-mate populations. Yet evidence is mounting that human to primate disease transmis-sion poses an important threat as well (Wallis and Lee, 1999; Warren et al., 1998; Butynski, 2001). In order to mitigate the impact of human-originating disease on pri-mates, it is important to understand not only which pathogens are involved but also how they are transmitted from humans to primates. Epidemiological and ethnographic data characterizing pathogen exposures among both human and primate populations in areas where the two come into contact can be used to assess which pathogens pose the greatest risk to wild primates and to develop hypotheses regarding the likely routes of transmission. Recently we presented evidence that human pathogens are finding their way to wild macaque populations on the island of Sulawesi (Jones-Engel et al, 2001). But how? One possible explanation lies in the practice of pet ownership. Primate pet ownership provides a variety of contexts for interspecific disease transmission. Ex-posure to human pathogens can take place at several junctures in the life of a primate destined to be a pet: during the hunting or trapping process, while being transported, at market, and in the home of a pet owner. Pathogens infecting pet primates may in turn be introduced into wild primate populations when wild primates come into con-tact with pets or when escaped pets come into contact with their wild counterparts. Of course, if interspecific contact provides human pathogens with the opportu-nity to infect primate hosts, the possibility of primate-to-human transmission also ex-ists. Given the unprecedented mobility of people, animals and commodities in today's interconnected world, the conditions have never been better for the rapid global dif-fusion of emerging human infectious diseases. Seen in this light, data on pet owner-ship may be crucial to understanding an important link in a chain of pathogen trans-mission that connects human beings the world over to wild primate populations.
The live capture of primates is occurring throughout the tropics and can be a threat to their conservation. Primates are owned as pets for a variety of reasons. Studies of the motivations for primate ownership have been conducted in several countries where they are endemic, but no study has examined this issue in Madagascar. Madagascar is home to the highest number of threatened primate taxa in any one country, and an estimated 28,000 lemurs were kept in illegal captivity from 2010 to mid-2013. We aimed to expand knowledge about the motivations of lemur ownership in Madagascar. Data were collected via a web-based survey (n = 229 respondents) and from the websites and social media pages of 25 hotels. We found that many lemurs (45%) were seen on the premises of a business or in a private home (27%). Many lemurs were perceived to be kept as personal pets (37%) or for money-making or tourism purposes (20%). When lemurs were used for money-making, owners could receive indirect (72% of the time) and direct benefits (28%). Hotels showing photographs of captive lemurs on their websites and social media sites charged USD 25.69 more per night for a standard room than hotels that did not show such photographs. We found little evidence that captive lemurs are kept as a social status symbol, for captive breeding, or as a fallback food. These findings provide evidence that the motivations for the ownership of, usually illegal, captive lemurs is typically linked with money-making or with the desire to have a lemur as a pet. These data can help target new outreach programs.
Live extraction of wildlife is a threat to biodiversity and can compromise animal welfare standards. Studies of the captive environments and welfare of pet primates are known, but none has focused on Madagascar. We aimed to expand knowledge about the captive conditions of pet lemurs in Madagascar. We hypothesized that captive le- murs would often be kept in restrictive settings, including small cages, would be fed foods inconsistent with their natural diets and, as a result, would be in bad physical or psychological health. Data were collected via a web-based survey (n = 253 reports) and from the websites and social media pages of 25 hotels. Most lemurs seen by respon- dents were either kept on a rope/leash/chain or in a cage (67%), though some lemurs were habituated and were not restrained (28%). Most of the time (72%) cages were con- sidered small, and lemurs were rarely kept in captivity together with other lemurs (81% of lemurs were caged alone). Pet lemurs were often fed foods inconsistent with their natural diets, and most (53%) were described as being in bad health. These findings point to a need to undertake outreach to pet lemur owners in Madagascar about the captivity requirements of primates.
The role of wild meat for subsistence or as a luxury good is debated. We investigated the role of wild meat in food security in Madagascar, where consumption is poorly understood in urban areas and at regional scales. Using semi-structured interviews (n = 1339 heads-of- households, 21 towns), we aimed to: (1) quantify the amount and purpose of, (2) understand the drivers of, and (3) examine changes in wild meat consumption. Few respondents preferred wild meat (8 ± 3%) but most had eaten it at least once in their lifetime (78 ± 7%). Consumption occurred across ethnic groups, in urban and rural settings. More food insecure areas reported higher rates of wild meat consumption in the 6–8 months prior to interviews. Consumption was best explained by individual preferences and taboos. Less than 1% of respondents had increased consumption during their lifetimes. Wild meat prices showed no change from 2005–2013. Most consumption involved wild pigs and smaller-sized animals, though they were consumed less in the years following the 2009 coup. These data illustrate the differences between urban and rural communities, the occasions in which wild meat is used a source of food security, and provide evidence that some taxa are not hunted sustainably in Madagascar.