Real root of monkey problem

Strait Times 31 Oct 13;

ANIMAL Concerns Research and Education Society campaign executive See Han Sern is mistaken that I suggested culling monkeys because they are aggressive ("Culling doesn't tackle root of monkey problem"; last Friday).

I suggested culling because monkeys have invaded our living space and deprived us of the comforts of home.

Mr See also said monkey problems arise because food is readily available in human areas.

Food will always be readily available in human communities, so how does he expect us to keep food out of sight and reach of monkeys?

The real root of the problem is that monkeys do not have predators in their natural habitat to keep their numbers down.

As their population surges, they are forced to forage for food in human communities. The situation is aggravated by animal lovers giving food to them.

It is unrealistic to suggest that humans try to coexist with wild monkeys in our living space.

Without culling, the wild monkey population will surge such that we see monkeys all over the place.

As they can be aggressive, how are we to go about our lives in peace without the risk of being attacked?

Contrary to what Mr See would like us to believe, the culling of wild animals whose populations have grown to menacing proportions is an accepted practice in Australia, Europe, the United States and many other countries.

Culling does not mean killing the entire monkey population; it simply means keeping their numbers down to an acceptable level, so they will have enough food in their natural habitat and not have to invade our living space for it.

It will be more cruel to allow their numbers to multiply without control.

I support not culling wild monkeys if Mr See can produce a foolproof way to keep them in their natural habitat. So far, his proposals do not fulfil this condition.

Han Cheng Fong

Impose heavier fines on feeders
Straits Times Forum 31 Oct 13;

I VISIT MacRitchie Reservoir every Saturday morning for long runs with my team. Over the course of four years, I have observed that the monkeys there have become more aggressive ("Do more to curb monkey population" by Mr Han Cheng Fong, Oct 23; and "Culling doesn't tackle root of monkey problem" by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, last Friday).

It is common to see monkeys hanging around the cafe, compromising the safety of diners, especially young children. When the animals snatch food off the tables, the cafe staff would use spray hoses to chase them off.

My team usually eats fruits after training and monkeys have tried to attack us to obtain them.

Once, I saw a monkey in the amenities centre rummaging through a bag for food. It was tearing plastic bags and biting shampoo bottles, leaving the owner's belongings strewn all over the floor.

The monkeys have lost their fear of people and have come to expect food. They think plastic bags contain food and will not hesitate to snatch them from people.

In September last year, a woman needed 13 stitches after a monkey attacked her at MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

There is substantial evidence that the monkeys at MacRitchie Reservoir have crossed the line of safety.

Some people have called for the animals to be culled, but that is a short-term solution. Animal lovers who feed them are the prime reason why they approach humans.

Heavier fines could be imposed on those who feed monkeys. The authorities may also consider strengthening enforcement by roping in security companies to nab offenders.

Wong Shiying (Miss)

Tough to coexist with monkeys
Straits Times 31 Oct 13;

THE Animal Concerns Research and Education Society ("Culling doesn't tackle root of monkey problem"; last Friday) fails to appreciate the problem Mr Han Cheng Fong and his family face every day ("Do more to curb monkey population"; Oct 23).

To suggest that coexistence is the key to resolving the human-monkey conflict is unhelpful to the Han family and their neighbours.

Families should not have to lock themselves in their homes whenever there are monkeys around. It is hard to imagine how they could hold a birthday party or a barbecue in their garden without attracting unwanted attention from the monkeys. Babies left unattended could also be in danger.

Moving out may not even be an option as families may be reluctant to buy properties in monkey-infested areas.

Perhaps the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society can ascertain if humans have intruded into the natural habitat of monkeys, or if our forests have become too small to provide enough food for the monkeys, forcing them to invade our living space.

Fong Hang Yin (Ms)

Educate public on consequences of feeding monkeys
Straits Times Forum 31 Oct 13;

I AGREE with Mr Han Cheng Fong ("Do more to curb monkey population"; Oct 23) that the increase in the monkey population and their boldness over the years have become a serious concern.

I go to MacRitchie Reservoir weekly to train with my team and we consume fruits after training. We always keep a lookout for monkeys as they are not intimidated by the presence of humans.

This problem could have started because the public does not know that feeding the monkeys would increase their reliance on, and lessen their fear of, humans.

Planting more fruit trees in the forest would probably not help because the monkeys have already tasted our food.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has put up notices around the reservoir reminding people not to feed the monkeys, but this is not enough.

The public needs to be educated, starting from students in school. Forest treks could be arranged for them to learn about the consequences of feeding monkeys.

I hope the NEA will come up with more initiatives to resolve this problem.

Valarie Lai Zi Qing (Ms)