Top Stories

Sharp rise in monkey business in last year

MONKEYING AROUND: Macaques at the gate of a terrace house in Hindhede Drive.


    Feb 10, 2014

    Sharp rise in monkey business in last year

    FROM getting drunk on beer to dislodging window panes, monkey business in Singapore has gone up sharply in the past year.

    Last year, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) received about 1,860 reports related to monkeys, more than double the number it received in 2012.

    Most of the feedback came from residents living near the Central Catchment and Bukit Timah Nature reserves.

    There have also been isolated sightings in Jurong West and Sengkang in recent months, a spokesman said.

    Security guard R. Krishnan, at Le Wood condominium in Hindhede Drive, has seen all sorts of antics by monkeys that live in the area, which is near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

    "Once a resident forgot to close the window, and a monkey went into her home, pushed things around, and made a mess.

    "She called me in a panic, and when I got there, the monkey was standing, like a king."

    Bukit Timah residents have also seen monkeys drinking beer from cans that they snatch, while the AVA said it had a case last year of a monkey that repeatedly dislodged window panes from a school chapel. It did not disclose the name of the school.

    Only a small fraction of the cases reported to AVA - about 100 - were of monkeys acting aggressively, such as snatching belongings and chasing pedestrians and cyclists, and biting, scratching or injuring people or pets.

    But things can get out of hand. In September last year, a monkey entered a condominium unit and seriously injured an infant.

    The increase in monkey sightings can be attributed to ramped-up development of forested areas.

    But Mr Louis Ng, executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said the reports could have increased because the AVA hotline, which handles such monkey feedback, now runs 24/7, as opposed to only during working hours on weekdays.

    In the first half of last year, the AVA culled almost 360 long-tailed macaques, the most commonly seen breed of monkey here. The breed made up almost a fifth of the estimated 2,000 monkeys here.

    Their numbers have increased despite the heavy culling by the AVA because, ironically, such culling motivates macaques to breed, Mr Ng explained.

    "Biologically, once a male monkey sees that one of his wives doesn't have a baby, he will want to impregnate her," he said.

    He added that the solution is co-existence, which may need residents to install non-lethal electric fences that will prevent monkeys from entering their homes.

    He also said that the natural tendency for macaques is to live on the edge of forested areas and not deep inside them.

    AVA said that humane euthanasia is used as a "last resort" in land-scarce Singapore, as these monkeys "cannot be easily relocated".

    Also, monkeys, accustomed to human food, are likely to continue to venture out of forests.