Tuesday, November 19, 2013

India To Start Administering Birth Control To Frisky Monkeys

India is planning to put its rising population of primates on the pill to tackle the growing "monkey menace" in its towns and cities, government wildlife officials have confirmed.

Vasectomies and sterilisation programmes are also being developed as part of a broader plan to curb the chaos being caused by troupes of marauding monkeys as urban India expands into their traditional forests.

Thousands of red-bottomed Rhesus Macaques or Bhandar monkeys are the scourge of New Delhi, where they roam through government buildings, chew Internet cables, bite the unwary carrying food and steal from people's homes.

Delhi's deputy mayor was killed when he was knocked from his balcony by clambering monkeys in 2007.

Until earlier this year, the Indian capital's employed "monkey catchers" deployed larger, black-faced Langur monkeys to scare away the macaques.
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But since the use of and trade in Langur monkeys was banned earlier this year, the Indian government has been looking for a new solution.

Earlier this year officials from the Central Zoo Authority collaborated with the National Primate Centre in California to develop a new strategy with the Wildlife Institute of India. The researchers in California recommended a programme of oral contraceptives, female sterilisation and vasectomies, officials said.

Full story here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Color Patterns Of Monkey Faces Reflect Social Order

Monkeys have the most colorful faces of all mammals. New research says there are links between monkeys’ color patterns and their social structure and environment.

The study, led by Sharlene Santana, assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington and the curator of mammals at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, examined 139 species of catarrhines, a group of Old World monkeys and apes from Africa and Asia.

To compare faces, Santana and her co-authors conducted complex analyses of hundreds of monkey “head-shots” from online databases.

The study, published in Nature Communications, found that species that live in larger (more social) groups have faces with more complex color patterns than those that live in smaller groups. These color patterns have also evolved to be more complex when closely related species live within the same area, possibly making it easier to tell each other apart.

Full story here.

Study: Monkeys Understand Language Musicality Rules: Evolution of Human Speech

Language is a part of what makes us human, but learning different languages can often be a difficult process. There are rules and patterns in a language that make something "sound good" or cause it to become almost intelligible. Now, scientists have found that these structural and melodic patterns in languages are so simple, even monkeys can understand them.

Both language and music are structured systems. They feature particular relationships between syllables, words and musical notes. For example, implicit knowledge of the musical and grammatical patterns of our language makes us notice right away whether a speaker is a native or not. In a similar way, the perceived musicality of some languages results from dependency relations between vowels within a word.

Similar "dependencies" within words can be found in languages around the world. In order to see whether or not the ability to process these dependencies was a uniquely human feature, though, researchers turned to South American squirrel monkeys. Inspired by the monkey's natural calls and hearing predispositions, the scientists designed a type of "musical system" for monkeys. These musical patterns had overall acoustic features similar to monkeys' calls, while their structural features mimicked syntactic or phonological patterns like those found in human languages.

Full story here.

Senate Sends Bill That Includes Chimp Haven Provisions To President Obama

Congress has sent President Barack Obama a bill that would lift a $30 million federal spending limit for the national federal research chimpanzee sanctuary in northwest Louisiana.

The bill’s final passage came when the Senate accepted House amendments to an unrelated health bill on Thursday. One amendment would let the U.S. health secretary override the cap if that would cut money spent to house all chimpanzees owned by the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s a great day for federally owned chimpanzees,” said Cathy Willis Spraetz, president and CEO of Chimp Haven in Keithville, La., the national sanctuary for chimpanzees retired from federal research.

“I am breaking out the champagne as we speak,” she said. “We are so excited to start this new chapter in the lives of these federally owned chimpanzees who have spent decades of their lives in research. It’s now time to bring ‘em home to sanctuary.”

Full story here.

Hundreds Of Rare Primates Seized In Indonesia

A record number of slow lorises have been seized in Indonesia, according to officials.

Photos from the International Animal Rescue Foundation show dozens of boxes containing the endangered animal. They had been seized on the main island of Java.

The lorises were rescued by the Indonesian Natural Resources Conservation Agency and were being cared for by the IAR in temporary cages at a rehabilitation centre in Bogor.

They were being moved from Sumatra to Java by smugglers who were about to sell them on as pets at markets.

Six lorises died because they had been squeezed so tightly into crates without food and water.

Full story here.