Shoushan monkeys lose meal ticket

COHABITATION::Both students and monkeys look set to stay at Kaohsiung’s Shoushan mountain, but experts hope new rules will make it easier for them to get along

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - Page 3

From now on those who feed the monkeys on Shoushan (壽山) — a hill in Greater Kaohsiung that has been designated a nature reserve — may be penalized with a NT$3,000 fine, the Shoushan National Natural Park said recently.

The park said that it hopes the measure would prevent monkeys from harassing humans.

Located on the west side of Kaohsiung, Shoushan is a 360m hill that was designated a nature reserve last year by the Ministry of the Interior to preserve its rich ecosystem — which includes more than 1,000 Formosan rock macaques, a species unique to Taiwan.

However, local residents, visitors and students of National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) located on the foot of the hill have long suffered from harassment — and even attacks — by the monkeys.

“People have complained about being harassed by the monkeys, but in fact, the monkeys are doing so because a lot of people feed them and they have become used to getting food from people,” said Ou Cheng-hsing (歐正興), director of the preparatory office of the Shoushan National Natural Park Administration.

“We think the best way to solve the problem is to ask locals and visitors to refrain from giving food to the monkeys,” he said. “Hence we’ve announced a ban on feeding the monkeys and violators will be fined NT$3,000.”

He said that at the moment there are 30 park patrols who go around and ensure visitors are not feeding the monkeys, “we would only give out tickets when visitors don’t listen to our patrols.”

A former graduate student from the NSYSU, surnamed Huang (黃), recalled that when he lived in the student dorm, the monkeys would sometimes sneak into his room through an unlocked window and steal snacks or drinks from the room.

Ou said that the most incredible incident he heard of was when two monkeys went to a convenience store on the NSYSU campus and stole bread from it.

“One of them stood outside as a lookout while the other went into the store to grab the bread,” he said. “When the one in the store completed his ‘mission,’ they left together.”

Ou said that while monkeys living side by side with humans is an irreversible fact on Shoushan, “we just have to figure out a way for the humans and monkeys to live together peacefully.”