Animal Scene - - THE WILD SIDE -

Macaques are al­ways on the look­out for a good meal, gob­bling up suc­cu­lent fruits, jaw-break­ing seeds, and the oc­ca­sional meaty treat. In Thai­land and Myan­mar, they’ve even been known to use crude wood and stone tools to break open nuts, clams, and all sorts of shell­fish. Typ­i­cally re­sid­ing in moun­tains and low­land forests near wa­ter, the sneaky simi­ans have en­croached into cities, hav­ing be­come more and more ac­cus­tomed to hu­mans.

Due to gen­er­a­tions of pub­lic feed­ing, many have learned to snatch food, cam­eras, bags, and any­thing else they can grab. Some macaque fam­ily groups, called troops, have even learned to raid houses – even open­ing re­frig­er­a­tors to get snacks! In Hongkong, feed­ing plus a lack of nat­u­ral preda­tors have caused pop­u­la­tions of rhe­sus and long-tailed macaques to be­come bold and ag­gres­sive. In In­dia, where de­vout Hin­dus wor­ship the Mon­key God Hanu­man, ram­bunc­tious macaques are known to charge and bite peo­ple – es­pe­cially if there’s a chance to get food. The Times of In­dia re­ported that in Delhi alone, 1,825 mon­key bites were re­ported over the first 11 months of 2015! As ur­ban mon­key and hu­man pop­u­la­tions grow, mon­key en­coun­ters will be­come more and more com­mon. So­lu­tions range from min­i­miz­ing pub­lic feed­ing to neu­ter­ing wild macaques.

De­spite their re­sem­blance to hu­mans, al­ways treat macaques as wild an­i­mals. If you want to see them, travel to Su­bic Bay in Zam­bales where large troops still abound. Just re­mem­ber not to feed them and to watch your gear – those nifty lit­tle hands are fast!

Lastly, if you see mon­keys of any kind be­ing sold, please re­port it to An­i­mal Scene and your lo­cal wildlife pro­tec­tion agency. Mon­keys are legally pro­tected and make poor pets be­cause of their ex­treme un­pre­dictabil­ity. Re­mem­ber that at least 70 per­cent of all pri­mate species in Asia are threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion. We need to keep ‘em in the wild where they can live, breathe, and glee­fully en­gage in mon­key busi­ness.

Pig-tailed macaque (Ma­caca nemest­rina), clas­si­fied by the IUCN as vul­ner­a­ble. Found across Bor­neo, Su­ma­tra, the Malay Penin­sula and Thai­land. Grows to 20 inches and av­er­ages 20 pounds. Known for their short, up­right tails, re­sem­bling pig’s tails. In Malaysia, they are trained to climb and har­vest co­conuts! (Gregg Yan)

Long-tailed macaque (Ma­caca fas­ci­c­u­laris), the most com­mon of the 22 macaque species. It is known for be­ing un­usu­ally bold and ag­gres­sive when search­ing for food – even sneak­ing in­side homes and open­ing re­frig­er­a­tors to get snacks. The Philip­pine macaque is a sub­species of this wide­spread an­i­mal. (Gregg Yan)

Mon­key looks at the canopy of Mount Bon­gao in Tawi-tawi, the Philip­pines. (Gregg Yan)

Stay­ing with a troop of macaques re­veals hu­man­like habits. The au­thor spent a few hours with a troop of wild macaques in Tawi-tawi. The mon­keys spent a lot of time play­ing, fight­ing – and just think­ing about life. (Gregg Yan)

Mother and child do some groom­ing, 30 feet above the for­est floor. Fe­males can give birth at five years of age, rais­ing a sin­gle baby ev­ery two years. Ba­bies stay with their moth­ers for about 10 months. (Gregg Yan)

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