Increased contact between humans and Formosan macaques in the Shoushan (壽山) area of Kaohsiung’s Gushan District (鼓山) might be increasing the risk of life-threatening diseases jumping species, a National Pingtung University of Science and Technology report said.
The report was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior’s National Nature Park Headquarters for its Project to Monitor Taiwan Macaque Populations and Research Macaque-related Disease and Health.
Incidents of macaques jumping on people are likely prompted by increased contact, as the monkeys have learned that interacting with people is one way to obtain food, said Su Hsiu-hui (蘇秀慧), an associate professor at the university’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation.
Photo courtesy of the National Nature Park
However, such interactions could cause diseases to be transmitted both ways, or lead to conflict between people and macaques, Su said.
Humans and macaques share a common susceptibility to many kinds of diseases, including Cercopithecine herpesvirus (CHV-1), dengue fever and amebiasis, said Chen Chen-chih (陳貞志), a professor at the institute who heads the project.
The infection rate among adult macaques for CHV-1 is about 100 percent, Chen said, adding that human-macaque contact increases the risk of people being exposed to a deadly virus.
The macaque population in the Shoushan area has been under high pressure, possibly due to increased population size and increasing contact with people, he said.
Incidents of conflict between people and macaques have been rising, the park headquarters said, citing an incident last year in which a visitor to the area was bitten by a macaque that jumped onto their back.
Faced with such a situation, people should keep calm and move slowly toward a tree so that the monkey would be inclined to jump either onto the tree or the ground, the park said.
People should refrain from waving their hands or other actions that the animals might perceive as aggressive, it said.
Shoushan is a natural habitat of Taiwanese macaques and people should avoid contact with them, including by feeding or provoke them, it said.
People who contravene rules against contact with wildlife face a fine of NT$3,000 as stipulated by the National Park Act (國家公園法), and NT$5,000 to NT$10,000 under the Kaohsiung City Autonomous Act on Wildlife Conservation (高雄市野生動物保育自治條例), it added.
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