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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Jo Setchell

Waters, Siân, Bell, Sandra & Setchell, Joanna M. (2018). Understanding Human-Animal Relations in the Context of Primate Conservation: A Multispecies Ethnographic Approach in North Morocco. Folia Primatologica 89(1): 13-29.

Author(s) from Durham


Strategies for conserving species threatened with extinction are often driven by ecological data. However, in anthropogenic landscapes, understanding and incorporating local people's perceptions may enhance species conservation. We examine the relationships shepherds, living on the periphery of the mixed oak forest of Bouhachem in northern Morocco, have with animals in the context of a conservation project for Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). We analyse ethnographic data to provide insights into shepherds' conceptions of Barbary macaques and the species which bring the shepherds into the forest - goats (Capra hircus), domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), and the African wolf (Canis lupus lupaster). We interpret these data within the framework of boundary theory. Our multispecies ethnographic approach illuminates the different and, in the case of the domestic dog and the Barbary macaque, complex ways shepherds perceive each species. Some shepherds show intrinsic interest in the macaques, revealing potential recruits to conservation activities. As with any ethnographic study, our interpretations of human-animal relations in Bouhachem may not extrapolate to other areas of the Barbary macaque's distribution because of the unique nature of both people and the place. We recommend that conservationists examine complex place-based relations between humans and animals to improve wildlife conservation efforts.