Sun, Apr 22, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Monkey numbers soaring

MONKEY BUSINESS:Shei-pa National Park and Wuling Farm have warned tourists not to feed the Formosan macaques in the area, for fear of making them aggressive

By Hsieh Feng-chiu  /  Staff reporter

A Formosan macaque sits unperturbed on a wall at Wuling Farm in Greater Taichung as a child approaches yesterday.

Photo provided by a tourist to Hsieh Feng-chiu, Taipei Times

The Shei-pa National Park and Wuling Farm yesterday urged visitors not to feed the surging number of Formosan rock macaques living in the area, fearing that regular feeding might encourage the monkeys to attack and harass people to get food.

However, areas near the Wuling Farm, Miaoli County, have seen a macaque population explosion, with approximately six to seven tribes of them roaming around the region.

The macaques seen along the farm’s tea garden trial, or ahead of the entry point for the Snow Mountain climb, do not appear to fear strangers and continue to chew fruits or vegetable leaves despite tourists approaching to within 2m.

Tourists who have knowledge of the multiple attacks and harassment by the macaques in Greater Kaohsiung’s Chaishan (柴山) expressed concerns over the burgeoning monkey population in the Wuling area, saying they worried the monkeys might scratch their children when grabbing food from their hands.

Officials from Shei-pa National Park said the number of macaques has greatly increased. Of the roughly seven tribes of monkeys in the area, the largest tribe counts more than 100 animals.

The monkeys often steals foodstocks from tourist huts on the mountain, such as the Sanliujiu Hut, or 369 Hut, officials said.

Chang Kuang-hui (張光輝), chief of Wuling Farm’s department of tourism administration, said the farm has not received reports of macaque monkeys seizing food from tourists so far.

However, Chang said the farm has taken notice of a solitary macaque, which used to be the leader of a tribe, but has fallen from power, lingering near the tea plantation trail and seeking food from tourists. He cautioned tourists not to feed the monkey.

Macaques normally gather at the start of the mountain path, expecting mountaineers or tourists to feed them, or rummage around garbage dumps for leftovers. However, feeding the monkeys could bring about changes to their foraging habits, sparking aggressive behavior such as grabbing food, the conservation and research section said. Tourists and climbers were therefore advised not to feed them.

Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff Writer

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