Tackling monkey nuisance a shared responsibility
26 Mar 2018
Troops of wild monkeys have recently been found in some residential blocks in Tai Wai, Sha Tin. They climb along building pipes and some even enter people’s homes. In fact, monkey nuisance has been a decade-long issue in the district and the animal traps placed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) seem to be no match.
Dr Sung Yik-hei, Lecturer of the Department of Biology points out that the species that exist in Hong Kong are the Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) and the Long-tailed Macaque (M. fascicularis). They are mainly found in Kam Shan, Lion Rock, and Shing Mun Country Parks. These monkeys may leave the country parks due to a shortage of food.
Dr Sung stated that the dramatic increase in the monkey population over the years is a consequence of people feeding wildlife. Through frequent contact with humans, some wild monkeys have become fearless of humans and exhibit aggressive behaviour; they may also stray into nearby suburban residential areas in search of easy food. Thus, monkey nuisance problems have spread from country parks to its surrounding areas with human settlement.
“Hong Kong's wild monkey population is estimated at 2,000. Generally speaking, monkeys fear humans and would not normally harass people unless offered food or frightened. Indeed, we should not offer food or provoke the monkeys as they may spread diseases like rabies to humans. Besides, under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance, feeding of wild animals in the major wild monkey habitats is strictly prohibited. Any person found contravening the ban is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000.”
In order to control the wild monkey population, the AFCD launched a large-scale contraceptive programme in 2007. To tackle the recent problem in Tai Wai, giant trapping cages were put in place to catch the monkeys, which would then be sent back to nature. Dr Sung said everyone has a shared responsibility to solve this problem. "To reduce the presence of monkeys in residential areas and minimise conflicts between people and monkeys, we should stop feeding wildlife." In order to protect our lives and property, Dr Sung also suggested for a team to be set up to manage the wild monkeys and lead them back to their natural habitat.