A female student who carried a BB gun for self-defense against marauding monkeys did not contravene the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法), the Kaohsiung Agriculture Bureau on said on Friday.
The bureau issued the statement after a video earlier this week circulated online showing the student raising the air gun while waiting for a food delivery driver in front of a dormitory at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung.
The video also showed another female student being chased by two Formosan macaques while carrying a bag with food. She subsequently surrendered the bag to the monkeys, who ran away with the food.
The video sparked widespread discussion.
Local news media reported that the first student had fired the gun at monkeys, and some social media users asked whether this was illegal.
The bureau said that the student had the gun for a legitimate self-defense purpose and that she did not aim to injure the monkeys.
The protection status of Formosan macaques was in 2019 downgraded to “common wildlife animal” status under the Wildlife Conservation Act, the bureau added.
University officials said that they have during orientation events for new students handed out guidebooks on how to behave while around monkeys.
The school’s Web site also reminds students that monkeys might be foraging for food, and that students should not openly carry food while outside, they said.
Kaohsiung City Councilor Huang Jie (黃捷) wrote on Facebook that she had experienced monkeys foraging for food, and that the dangers of interactions between people and monkeys should be addressed.
“Right now we have hostile interactions because monkeys and humans share the same environment. Humans have intruded into Formosan macaques’ original habitat,” she said.
Some people have fed the monkeys, and the animals have learned that humans are an easy source for food, she said, adding that this has led to increased foraging.
Food should be placed in backpacks, or nontransparent sealable plastic bags, and be carried at chest level, she said, quoting guidelines promoted by monkey protection groups.
If monkeys are around, people should quickly leave the area, she added.
She was attacked by monkeys before, but not after she started following the guidelines, Huang said, adding that if everybody followed them, monkeys would learn that it is too difficult to rely on people for food.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
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