Pesty primates ruffle feathers in Yunlin County 獼猴下雲林 大鬧斗六市

Sat, Dec 07, 2013 - Page 11

Formosan macaques can be aggravating for farmers. Aside from endangering people in mountainous areas, the flatland regions of Yunlin County’s Douliou City and Linnei Township have also frequently been ravaged by monkeys this year. The macaques are injuring tourists by scratching them and there is often news of groups of macaques behaving aggressively toward women and children if they are alone. Agriculture agencies in Yunlin County have launched a monkey-catching campaign.

Tourists oftentimes feed macaques along Provincial Highway No. 3 in Linnei Township and occasionally get attacked. Episodes of monkeys breaking into abandoned houses to look for food often occur, which is keeping local residents in a state of constant fear. Local agriculture officials recently used tranquilizer guns to tranquilize a macaque that they assumed was the leader of the group, releasing him back into the wild in a mountainous area. The move seemed to produce a temporary terrifying effect — the group of macaques disappeared for several days. In recent days, however, local government officials discovered that the macaques returned, making the monkeys a constant source of irritation.

The Douliou City Office says that this particular group of macaques appeared after several cold fronts hit at the beginning of the year. Tourists throw food along the road for them and an elderly woman in the area often feeds them fruit and vegetables, ostensibly making the Chukou Village area the living quarters for as many as 40 to 50 monkeys — a major nuisance for local residents. Workers from the county government and local city offices have been dispatched on a number of occasions and used firecrackers to drive away the macaques. As soon as the officials leave, however, the monkeys return.

Besides incidents of macaques attacking humans in Linnei, monkeys in Douliou City’s Sankuang Borough broke into a house once, jumping between the balconies and hitting the windows. The area surrounding the Yunlin County Government Cultural Affairs Department has nominally become the territory for several macaques. They move along the utility cables, often vandalizing orchards and chicken coops in the area. The Yunlin Agriculture Department has come up empty handed on several occasions when it tried to catch the monkeys.

Agriculture Department veterinarian Lin Pei-yi says that macaques are quite clever and cunning. Macaques vanish into thin air as soon as they see groups of humans, she says, adding that on one occasion when she was walking in the area alone, they saw her by herself and started making ferocious faces and violently shaking the trees to provoke her.

Douliou City Office veterinarian Lee Tsang-hai says that in recent years the Forestry Bureau has provided funding to drive out the macaques, using an array of firecrackers, including whistling firecrackers and bamboo canons. It has had a limited effect on the intrepid monkeys and impelled them to move down to the flatlands instead. Some people have suggested capturing them and tying their fallopian tubes, while others have suggested allowing a limited degree of hunting, similar to what Australia has done with kangaroos and England with rabbits. A conclusion has yet to be reached as to which method would be the most effective.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)