Burning Questions LIVE w/ a volunteer guide

I chose to participate in this event because I was initially going to participate in the Monkey Walk but ended up unable to do so due to COVID-19. Hence, I took up this opportunity to learn more about what I would have missed out on.

Here are some of the things I learnt after attending the Burning Questions LIVE:

  • Long tailed macaques are omnivores who have a varied diet. Their natural diet consists of leaves and flowers, shellfish and crabs, as well as insects.
  • Long tailed macaques live in multi male, multi female social groups. These social groups consist of adults, sub-adults, juveniles and infants. The typical macaque troop size is 25 to 35 individuals.
  • Social hierarchies exist within these social groups. There would be an alpha male that leads the group, beta and gamma females and males etcetera
  • Both the alpha male and female has access to food first, has priority in choosing sleeping positions. However, in return, they have to defend and protect the troop and be on constant look-out.

Something that really stood out to me was the expressions of long-tailed macaques people commonly misunderstand. We see a smile as a friendly gesture but for long-tailed macaques it’s a fear grin that actually means they are terrified and we should back away. When they raise their eyebrows up and down, it is also a sign of their discomfort, and humans should stay away!!

Miss Joys stated that in the first half of 2017, there were 7 incidences of long-tailed macaque road kills. It is inevitable that there will be roads near forested areas, and that the green patches in Singapore will be separated by roads. When animals in general, not just long-tailed macaques, move from one green patch to the next, they are at high risk of road accidents. I was wondering if there was anything we could do on our side to prevent these incidents from happening?

Lastly, one strategy suggested to engage people about a highly misunderstood species is just to increase exposure. For long-tailed macaques, the things about them that end up on the news or media platforms are negative and mostly about human-macaque conflict. Hence, the public is likely to associate macaques with a negative connotation. It is important for us, the people who do not already have a preconceived bias against macaques and those who hold a deeper understanding about them to change the mindset and behaviours of others. We can all contribute easily by sharing some interesting and endearing photos about them with our friends and family, slowly removing whatever bias they might have against these animals. We contribute even further by being a Monkey Walker as well as engage in public outreach efforts.


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