I was attracted to this event because I saw that I could learn more about the monkeys from the monkey guide herself! As joy has been a JGIS guide for 3 years, I hope to learn from her experience that she had gained working with primates through the years.
There were a few interesting things I learnt from this event, firstly I definitely didn’t know that despite our rich biodiversity, we are only home to 3 species of primates in Singapore. They are the endemic Raffles’ Banded Langur (as seen above), the Sunda Slow Loris (this cute looking primate is actually the only venomous one out of the three!) and last but not least, the commonly seen Long-tailed Macaque.
Did you know that besides body language and their calls Macaques also express themselves through facial expressions? They acually do so by like lifting their eyebrowns, showing their teeth, which are signs of them being annoyed. Hence, if we were to encounter a troop of macaques in a nature park, on a trail, it would be wise to observe both their body language and any expression they could be making before moving forward to go past them. Also remember that this wildlife are all wild, so it would be wise to keep a safe distance between you and the animal. Do not attempt to go too close to any wildlife and feed them in our nature parks.
Also I learnt that efforts like monkey guarding could be used to prevent lesser human-wildlife conflict. Monkey guarding is where trained personnel patrols hotspots where the monkeys are often seen accessing into urban areas like residential premises. These personnel using their presence and body language to educate the monkeys that the areas they are at are off limits. This allows both the monkeys and human to co-exist with one another in close proximity.
After hearing the speaker’s experience and knowledge about the macaques I feel that many local Singaporeans would definitely have a changed perspective regarding these often seen macaques if they were to consider from the macaque’s perspective when interacting with humans. These long-tailed macaques are often seen as intruders out to bother people, however, they are actually just behaving as they would naturally as a response to our actions and behavior. I would definitely attend another of these Burning Questions Session, and would encourage nature guides to share more about their knowledge and work experience with wildlife to convince the public that species such as the long-tailed macaques are actually highly-misunderstood. Thereby, changing people’s perspectives towards these species and they would be more supportive to conservation campaigns. All nature enthusiasts should reach out and share their knowledge the public more often!