Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Save the world: Co-existing with wild life

The monkey on the tree and dropping mango stones unto Christopher's head.
This monkey snatched a packet of biscuits from the children. The monkey held the packet firmly under one arm and with his 3 other limbs zigzagged his way through us and and quick like a flash, was up the tree. I was within reach of his tail but wasn't sure if I still wanted the biscuits.

The monkey came very near to Christopher and Olivia waiting to pounce on the goodies the children were having for their picnic.

scaffolding when my apartment was painted. You can see the vertical stainless railing that the monkeys climbed on.

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.

My nieces and nephews went to visit a nature reserve. They went to the MacRitchie Reservior. There the monkeys are no longer living the way they were meant to be. They have become very aggressive.

Here's what my sister Grace wrote of their experience.

"someone had opened a packet of biscuits, before I know it, a monkey had taken the whole packet right under our noses. While the kids yelled, gave chase and Lincoln clapped his hands in the monkeys face, the monkey held the packet firmly under one arm and with his 3 other limbs zigzagged his way through us and ran up a tree. I was within reach of his tail but wasn't sure if I still wanted the biscuits.

Michael was very frightened and tightly held the other packet of biscuits while trying to drink. Angelina with a piece of biscuit in one hand and a cup in the other was fiercely protecting her cap by tucking it under her arm. Thomas got the long drink bottle and told us that if the other monkeys came nearer, he would use it to push the monkeys' heads away. By then, many monkeys came running towards us from far away.

A monkey came up to our feet to pick up the biscuit crumbs. Some watched us at shoulder height from a nearby tree. It was eerie because the monkeys were camouflaged in the tree trunks but we could see their eyes watching us. There were about 5 lining up on the ground 3 feet away from us.

Helen decided to keep the biscuits inside the box but started on the pomelo fruit with Olivia. Helen told Olivia to be careful. I didn't even realise that the pomelo sacs were dropped on the floor until the monkeys rushed over to pick them up. There were lots of shouting and shooing from the kids, Michael started crying............next thing I heard, Olivia's pomelo was snatched from her hand.

I couldn't believe it, here we were lecturing about our food, Jessie verbally abusing the monkey which was enjoying our packet of biscuits. Olivia said it was like a tug and war, and it felt strange when the monkey's fingers touched hers.

It just got really scary because lots and lots of monkeys had turned up and we had to leave.

It was an experience. I couldn't take any photoes of the monkeys lining up in front of us because Michael was crying and Angelina kept holding onto my leg.

A week later when we were deciding where to go for a picnic, Olivia jokingly suggested the monkey park. Thomas said we can't go there, the monkeys will steal all our food again."

For more monkey stories, I will be posting more of these kids adventure with the monkeys at my other site: http://ann-mythoughtsandphotos.blogspot.com/2010/04/outdoor-wednesday-wild-monkeys-in-city.html


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Yes it is sad that humans have taken over their natural habitat. Here, in places which are near to the game reserves, the monkeys and baboons have become very aggressive too. Some people feed them and so they become used to them and loose their natural fear of man.

Dave said...

Interesting story about the monkeys Ann. Glad we don't have them here. - Dave

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Ann: That is really neat. I saw monkeys in Costa Rica and really enjoyed them.

Ensurai said...

Yes it is a pity we cannot live alongside or with them...
I was in Bako N.P. a long time ago and loved listening to their chatter.
But on the second day one of them took my brand new swimming suit.I wonder why everything else was not taken except my swimming suit?
My friends said it must have been a cheeky male....
More studies must be made about them...

Jama said...

There's still a lot of monkeys here in Singapore, one place is the Lower Seletar Reservoir, there's a whole colony of them! of course no one is allowed to feed the animals, so at least they are not so aggresive. I've seen some on the main road near the reservoir park. In Bali and Thailand, the monkeys don't only grab food, they took anything shining they like including spectacles! they are a menace!

Autumn Belle said...

To humans, monkeys are a menace. To the monkeys, human beings are the destroyer or monster.

SJB aka SUELYN J-B. said...

Naughty monkeys huh hehehe.