Burning Questions LIVE w/ a JGIS Volunteer Guide

Originally, I wanted to go for the actual monkey walk to see the Long-tailed Macaque in person, in light of the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker, I decided to participate in this BQ to learn more and hopefully get to apply whatever I learned then when I go monkey walking. Additionally, I was interested in learning what the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) did to engage the public

I learnt quite a bit from this sharing by Joys.
Firstly, I learnt a bit more about long-tailed macaques. They are forest-edge dwellers who have been able to adapt to the urban environment. There are ~2000 individuals in Singapore (around the same population size if in the wild), each troop can have up to 25-35 individuals.

Secondly, I learnt a bit more about the human-macaque conflict. Generally, food tends to be the root cause of this conflict in the “zone of interaction”. When people leave their food behind or intentionally try to feed the macaques, they become comfortable with humans and start approaching. 

Lastly, I learnt more about the measures put in place to manage human-macaque conflict. The “No Feeding” campaign was put in place to prevent the feeding capacity from increasing, hence increasing the population of macaques as well as chance of human-macaque conflict. Monkey guarding/herding is another measure put in place to keep long-tailed macaques away from homes. Security guards of residential areas have been taught and trained on how to  deter the macaques from entering by acting as the barrier

Something that really surprised me was how our behaviour can be perceived by the macaques. People have a common misunderstanding of macaque behaviour, as such we are mostly unaware that raised eyebrows or smiling are perceived as acts of aggression by macaques, prompting them to retaliate. Similarly, if they do those actions to us, we should be wary and not encroach further on their territories.

One new insight I gained from Joys is how much effort has been put into protecting macaques and maintaining a good relationship between us. It all starts with educating the public and showing them that we are indeed able to peacefully coexist as long as we respect each other’s boundaries :))

One strategy I would suggest when engaging people about a highly-misunderstood species like the long-tailed macaques is to allow them to observe the wonderful animals for themselves. Often the macaques get a bad reputation in the media because we’re always hearing about how macaques break into homes to steal food. But if we are able to show and explain the reasons behind their behaviour to the people, they might become more willing to accept them and learn more.

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