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Primate Pest Management

Pest Behaviour at Hotel

In Diani, three species of monkey are considered pests: baboons, sykes and vervets. Yet it remains a love-hate relationship as in the hotels, management recognises that the monkeys are a significant tourist attraction and in private homes, people enjoy watching the monkeys.

This one page document highlights the few essential actions to control primate pests in hotels (and homes too!)

Primate Pest Management - Essential Actions


Baboons, sykes and vervet monkeys often do damage in hotels. Pest behaviour includes destruction of property and taking food from kitchens, off the buffets and tables and out of people's hands.  Unfortunately,  threatening, scratching and biting of staff and guests has also occurred causing management of the hotels concern over having the monkeys on their property. 

Colobus monkeys, owing to their different dietary adaptation, are the only species that do not cause problems as they stay in the tree canopy as their diet is mainly leaves.

In the monkeys’ defense, these hotels have been built in what is, traditionally, their home range. Development has greatly reduced the number of food tree species in the area. This is coupled with an increase in the birth rate compared to truly wild troops as human food and rubbish is readily available which requires considerably less expenditure of energy to access and the foods have a higher caloric value than wild forage.

Primate pest behaviour is also enhanced through the enticement of monkeys to approach people for photos through the offering of food. Hotels are particularly vulnerable because they serve food in open areas and at specific times of the day. This regularity changes the routine of monkeys in order that they can best take advantage of the situation.

In order to resolve this problem, Colobus Conservation conducts Primate Pest Assessments and follow-up management workshops with hoteliers. Topics during these workshops include the value of monkeys (ecologically and socio-economically), monkey psychology, deterrents, waste management and individual roles in conservation.

A document, Pest Management Plan: Prescriptions for the Management of Pest Monkeys in Diani Beach hotels was developed by Colobus Conservation and is freely available. We would be interested to hear back from people of where and how the prescriptions are used and the effectiveness of different aspects of the Plan.


In homes, typically food availability from open doors leading to the kitchen is the leading issue encouraging primate pest behaviours.  It is important to remember that monkeys can open fridge doors, cupboard doors, turn doorknobs, undo zippers and open bags.  They also often recognise the difference between a real and fake snake so hanging a plastic snake in your kitchen will not be a deterrent for long. 

Pest Management Plan

Extracted from the [Primate Pest Management Plan]

Aims of Management Plan

Many hotels on Diani Beach experience issues with monkeys as pests on their premises. Efficient running of the hotels is impeded by theft of food and damage to property; risk of injury to guests can, and has, led to potentially damaging law-suits.

The root cause of monkey pest issues (as with other types of pest issues such as rats and cockroaches) is easy access to food sources.

Diligent implementation of the methods introduced in this plan will minimise your monkey pest issues by dealing with the root cause. As an additional benefit these actions will keep monkeys wild, maintaining the authentic wildlife viewing experience for tourists and in so doing will increase the quality of your product and the value received by the tourist during their stay at your hotel.

Short term aims:Baboon at Sunbather Lounge

  • To remove artificial food sources for monkeys;
  • To reduce financial losses and damage of hotel property and improving food hygiene management using humane deterrents  to monkeys;
  • To provide systems for educating staff and tourists to reduce the monkey / human conflict.

Long term aims:

  • To stabilise a smaller population of less habituated monkeys providing quality eco-viewing without harmful interactions to hotel guests and staff;
  • To reduce liability of hotels by decreasing the risks of negative interactions between guests and monkeys.

Setting Policies for your Company / Hotel

To ensure that the efforts and investment you make in tackling your pest monkeys are effective in the long term, it is important that your organisation sets policies and procedures regarding this issue.  It is critical that the senior executive level agrees on and is committed to these policies, and that leadership is shown at all levels of the organisation in addressing the pest monkey issue.

While compiling your pest monkey management policies, consider the following questions:

  • What are the losses (in physical, cost and guest relations terms) that your organisation finds acceptable as a result of pest monkey issues?
  • Who is the person ultimately accountable and responsible for managing pest monkey issues, and does the organisation as a whole respect that person’s role? Can / does that person have sufficient reach to implement the methods across all relevant areas?
  • What is your policy on investing in your staff? Will you train and build these prescriptions into your permanent in-house initiation and training programmes for new employees?  Will you set up “beginning of season” refresher courses for your staff in order that your pest monkey management remains efficient and effective?
  • What actions will you take with those accountable if your pest monkey issues are not reduced? What timeframe and priority are you setting for this task?
  • Who will pay for medical costs when a guest or employee is injured due to a monkey encounter if the individual did not comply with management recommendations / policies?
  • How does your organisation view Diani as a whole and the pest monkey issues associated with Diani? Do you recognise that managing pest monkey issues makes Diani a better location for tourists overall?
  • How will your investment in managing pest monkey problems increase the quality and value of your product? Natural assets (such as the beach, forest, weather, wildlife and birds) are very often undervalued and not recognised formally as assets to be invested in. How will you leverage this?

Please go to the Plan for the Management Prescriptions [Primate Pest Management Plan].