Communities around protected areas frequently complain of wild animals destroying already limited crop fields, with little or no assistance offered by conservation stewards towards the mitigation of crop raiding losses. The aim of this study was to find out whether forest disturbance gradient and crop mixtures influence the level of crop raiding by the red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius larvatus) and the grey-cheeked mangebey (Lophocebus ugandae). The study was conducted in sample plots from seven village enclaves surrounding the Mabira Forest Reserve in central Uganda. Crop raiding was highest in the maize-cassava (Zea mays-Manihot esculenta) and least in banana-coffee (Musa sp.-Coffea sp.) cropping mixtures. Crop raiding among disturbance zones was higher in the more disturbed production zone, but did not differ between the low and moderate disturbance zones (nature reserve and recreation buffer). Results show that crop raiding by the two primate species is enhanced by forest disturbance that encourage either very limited or extensive forest disturbance. However, the gravity of crop raiding is also determined by the cropping systems practices by communities around the forest. Planting mixtures of highly susceptible crops such as maize and less susceptible ones such as coffee, as well as following recommended weeding regimes can reduce the level of raiding. Compensation schemes should be disaggregated according to disturbance (or management zones).
Key words: Forest disturbance, crop mixtures, primates, crop raiding, Mabira forest, Uganda.
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