While Hong Kong's human birthrate is falling, it is facing an explosion in its primate population, a news report said yesterday.
The monkey population in Hong Kong is nearing 2,000 and rising at the rate of around 6 percent a year, according to the South China Morning Post.
That contrasts sharply with the birth rate among the city's 6.8 million human population, which has become one of the lowest in the world at less than 0.8 babies per woman.
Monkeys live mostly in Hong Kong's rural country parks, where experts said hikers are feeding them and helping the population to grow at three times the normal rate.
De-population of villages in the New Territories, where locals would once have kept the monkey populations down, was also cited as a factor in the growth of the primate numbers.
Officials are looking at ways of trying to bring down the population growth of the monkeys -- all of the grey macaque species -- who are increasingly becoming a nuisance.
When the monkeys get used to being fed by hikers, they will grab bags of food from country park visitors or raid village homes and temples for food.
Monkey expert Jane Goodall, on a five-day visit to Hong Kong, told the newspaper: "Monkeys here are taking too much of the wrong food, such as human food, which is usually fatty and bad for their health.
"This has boosted their fertility and also made them obese. ... It is very urgent to enforce a no-feeding [policy]."
Goodall warned that if wild animals and humans get too close, there is a danger of primate diseases jumping to humans as had happened with the deadly H5N1 bird-flu virus.
Human infertility rates in the city have climbed, with experts blaming stressful lifestyles and a lack of exercise among the young.
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