Discovered as an ingredient in lots of processed and packaged meals, palm oil is probably the most extensively consumed vegetable oil. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on October 21 have found an unlikely ally for palm oil manufacturing: pig-tailed macaques.
Macaques have had a popularity as crop raiders; however, the brand new research reveals they in truth trigger solely comparatively minor losses in palm oil yield. And, extra importantly, they actively seek for rats, the key oil palm pest. Consequently, they are saying macaque guests can scale back rat numbers by greater than 75 %, suggesting they may even exchange chemical compounds used to kill rodents.
Nadine Ruppert, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and her workforce have been learning the ecology and conduct of Southern pig-tailed macaques since 2013. They quickly realized that wild macaques have been spending a great deal of time on oil palm plantations that are present in a big part of macaques’ dwelling vary. They had been curious to study extra in regards to the macaques’ actions, whereas on these plantations.
Their research confirmed that macaques’ plantation food regimen included loads of oil palm fruits. Though a bunch of macaques ate greater than 12 tons of oil palm fruits per year, that is simply 0.56% of the general oil palm manufacturing within the macaques’ dwelling vary. And, they make up for it by consuming a lot of rats. That is key as a result of rats’ trigger losses of about 10% of manufacturing; therefore, they do way more crop harm than macaques.
She was instantly intrigued by their potential position in pest management. In reality, her group studies that common visits of pig-tailed macaques in Malaysia’s oil palm plantations might cut back crop injury from 10% to lower than 3%, equivalent to a yield improve equal to crops grown over roughly 406,000 hectares (or US$ 650,000 per year).
The findings ought to come as excellent news for oil palm producers and for macaques. “We anticipate that our outcomes will encourage each personal and public plantation house owners to contemplate the safety of those primates and their pure forest habitat in and around present and newly established oil palm plantations,” stated Anja Widdig, the senior writer affiliated with the College of Leipzig, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Analysis (iDiv) in Leipzig.