BQ with a Volunteer Guide

When I first visited Singapore, one of the more striking features I noticed in the country was the active presence of long-tailed macaques. It was a first for me to find both humans and wildlife coexisting in an urban setting. Now that I live here, I am more interested of their lifestyle! Hence, this event gave me the opportunity to learn more about these primates.

The coexistence of humans and animals have been a hard debate: different sides have different opinions on being understanding and open about living with nature at your doorstep, whether you are in an urban setting or not. This event made me realise that in such a small land area like Singapore, one cannot be too fussy on who their house visitor will be. Even for me, the area I live in has a healthy population of long-tailed macaques belonging to different family groups! I always see them hanging around the trees in Bukit Gombak Nature Park and Dairy Farm Nature Park. Sometimes, I’ll see them scouting the grounds of the park. During the event, the speaker said that they have a social hierarchy within each group which is compromised of multi-males and multi-females. Males and females have their own statuses of the alpha, beta and gamma. It was fascinating to know that even omnivorous animals are capable of assigning who’s boss!

Another thing I’ve learned from the speaker is the importance of a proper mindset and behaviour among people. Without it, there would be misunderstandings on the actions of macaques, and may potentially lead to further human-animal interactions which can disrupt peace and order in the community. People should be more aware of what it means to live among nature, and how mundane actions can deeply affect it.

One potential incident that can occur is accidentally luring them into one’s property. Leaving out food and disposing trash improperly can potentially attract the primates. During the event, the speaker stated that one of the ways the community prevents human and macaque interaction is through monkey guarding! I was surprised by this as I have never heard of this method before. People are assigned to scare away the primates from residential areas of Singapore through enforced and threatening shouting to scare them away.

One insight I’ve learned is that accepting and understanding who your neighbors are is very important, even if they walk on all fours! Animals are simple beings and they may not understand our rules, thus it is significant that people should be more flexible when encountering them. One should make way when crossing a macaque and no other form of interaction should be made to avoid accidents. A healthy biodiversity is essential in keeping a healthy society, so proper awareness and knowledge is key in keeping everyone happy!

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