Friday, May 24, 2013

Urban jungle



Where I lived in Singapore, NTU was once a jungle, there are still parcels of land that is left to be a jungle for the national Service for the boys to train as soldiers.

Human development push the wildlife to an extreme. Monkeys moved to where man have encroached. Photo shows scaffolding when my apartment was painted. You can see the vertical stainless railing that the monkeys climbed on. The monkeys don't need the scaffolds to come to our apartments.

There were rainforest trees just outside my balcony. The upside, I see lots of exotic birds and monkey jumping on the branches. The downside, monkeys come into the house and steal our food.

We were the first household in Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to have a brush with wild monkeys. When you see our apartment and the tall trees, you will understand why. The University was built on the edge of the city and encroached on the jungles. As more and more land were cleared for housing, the monkeys had no where to go.

It was about 8 years ago, I had just returned with Sam from a shopping trip, and Sam had left his french fries on the coffee table. I was at the corner of my dining room at the computer. Our dining room and lounge opened to the balcony where the trees were just outside us at the 4th storey.

An adult monkey climbed on to the railing of my balcony. Next, he was sitting on the chair barely a metre away from me. I was quietly calling to the children who were upstairs to come downstairs to watch. At the same time, I was afraid that it would attack me as it bared its fangs at me. It then walked to the lounge, sat at the couch and started eating the french fries. After he had finished eating the french fries, it grabbed hold of a canister of roasted peanuts under his arms.

At this time, three little monkeys climbed along the railings. The adult monkey very cleverly balanced on 3 limbs and climbed up the roof of my neighbour's apartment and cracked open the canister.

More monkeys came to join him, and all in all there were eight. I peeped from my stairway watching them enjoying a feast from my peanuts.

I had a nature journal with the university resident's website. Soon everyone knew about the monkeys. This was very interesting to the expatriot community. My neighbours came from all over the world. Unfortunately after the initial curiousity, the residents treated the Macaque monkeys as pest. We couldn't leave food outside on the tables. These monkeys created havoc by stealing our food and tearing orchid flowers apart.

I invited A/P Dr. Vilma for the Nature Society and the university to talk about these Macaque monkeys. The ladies had an enlightened afternoon. Vilma explained the plight of the monkeys and how men had rob them of their natural habitat. The best thing was to ignore them.

The university however, did not ignore them. They trapped and darted them. Oh, how sad, we could not exist with them.

1 comment:

andy tan said...

men v wild, there must be compromise.