Monkeys get aggressive with residents living near MacRitchie

Straits Times Forum 7 Nov 09;

AS A resident of West Lake Avenue, next to MacRitchie Reservoir, I am concerned over the increasing presence of monkeys in the area. The population of monkeys seems to have grown exponentially recently.

Over the past few weeks, every morning or evening they would arrive in a pack of eight to 10 in our street, go on a rampage opening dustbins and spilling trash. They enter homes if a door or window is left open and make a mess. They even chase people with bags, in a desperate search for food, I assume.

Previously, the monkeys were passive and stayed on the trees, and never bothered people. Now they have become violent and aggressive.

When I called the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), I was given the following options:

- I would be given a monkey trap, free of charge. I would put it in my house (not even out on the lawn) with a banana inside. If a monkey is trapped, I would call the AVA and officers would come and remove the monkey.

Is this realistic - and safe for my family? What if the monkey decides to attack us rather than take the banana?

- If a monkey becomes violent, I must call the police who will shoot it if harms residents.

This advice obviously assumes the monkey will wait for police to arrive and that the victim is able to call the police via mobile phone before the monkey steals it.

- I should chase a monkey off with a stick or spray of water.

This is fine if there is only one monkey, but they move in packs of eight to 10. What can one resident armed with a stick do?

What realistic assistance can the authorities provide? For a start, can the garbage bins be replaced with monkey-proof bins? If they have no access to food in the bins, the monkeys may not come out.

Shanti Achanta (Mrs)