Visitors to Sitou park warned after macaque attacks

By Hsieh Chieh-yu  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 4

Managers of Nantou County’s Sitou Nature Education Area (溪頭自然教育園區) warned people against feeding wild animals after many visitors were attacked by macaques over the past month.

The area in Lugu Township (鹿谷) is a forest park managed by the Experimental Forest Department of National Taiwan University’s (NTU) College of Bioresources and Agriculture.

As the number of visitors peaked before summer break ended on Thursday, the number of attacks by macaques rummaging for food also increased, the department said.

As macaques have limited natural food sources in the park — there are mostly coniferous trees — their increasing population must be caused by visitors feeding them, the Sitou Education Center said, citing research conducted by Ding Tzung-su (丁宗蘇), associate professor at NTU’s School of Forestry and Resource Conservation.

The macaques are no longer afraid of humans and have moved to lower altitudes, the center said.

The center had placed signs prohibiting certain conduct in the park, but it said that it has erected more signs banning specific behaviors around the macaques.

The signs warn visitors against feeding or touching the macaques and carrying food in transparent containers or bags, which might increase the likelihood of being targeted by the animals, the department said.

When spotting squirrels or macaques while on patrol, park personnel also instruct visitors about respecting nature and protecting themselves, the center said, adding that it has also increased the frequency of patrols.