Garbage Reduction

No edible garbage means no monkeys
and less human-monkey conflict

The Clean Reserve Project

litter2 The Polonnaruwa Archaeological Reserve and Nature Sanctuary is a popular site for foreign and local tourists. Over one hundred thousand people may visit the site on some days. A profusion of litter often blemishing the cultural artifacts and religious shrines. The heaps of food scraps left by vendors and visitors entices monkeys away from their forest haunts to feed on the garbage littered near homes and vendor stalls. The littering of garbage, therefore, is a major cause for conflict between humans and monkeys.  It also acts as a conduit for disease from humans to monkeys and vice-versa.

The Clean Reserve Project (CRP) was initiated by our Primate Biology Program with the aim to remove and reduce litter and its associated problems. The CRP was supported for many years by the Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Cultural and Religious Affairs, Sri Lanka.

The project had different components:

The Clean Reserve Project

The Clean Reserve Project

  • Daily collection and removal of litter
  • Installation of anti-lettering sign boards and special monkey-proof refuse bins
  • People rarely heed signboards.  Therefore, CRP Public Relations Officers proactively greeted all visitors to the site with verbal appeals not to litter and told the reasons for it.
  • CRP monitors guided the behavior of vendors and visitors prone to littering
  • CRP personnel educated the local community on litter reduction
  • Through CRP we organized schools students in campaigns to collect and dispose of garbage
  • Under the CPR banner we implemented the recycling of litter for generating income to the local community.

The CPR was highly successful for several years, but is no longer funded.  This component of the overall program deserves financial support so that we may more effectively address the increasing severity and frequency of conflict between humans and monkeys. The latter is a growing problem in many primate habitat countries worldwide.



Campaign to compost garbage

We take a proactive approach towards a solution.  Traditionally, in most rural homes, restaurants, and similar enterprises, food refuse is deposited in the garden surrounding the building. Here it is accessible to domestic and wild animals. This invites problems with stray domestic animals, pests (crows, rats), and in some areas – monkeys.

Our trials, using compost bins, have shown positive results in reducing pest problems.  With support from local business (ARPICO, Richard Pieris and Co., Ltd) we have printed and distributed educational brochures encouraging stakeholders to compost their refuse in special bins, and, in this way, to prevent animals from having access.  No edible refuse means – no visiting or raiding monkeys – and it is one step towards reducing human-monkey conflict.

Human perceptions about monkeys

Political support for conservation requires an informed and interested public.  In order to better serve the community and address human-monkey conflict issues, we initiated a study to clarify  regional differences in the kinds of problems with monkeys, and to document how this may affect  human perceptions and attitudes about monkeys.  Not all monkey species and regions are subject to pest issues.