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Times 21 May 07
When feeding monkeys = loving them to death
Fine for feeding them increased to $250 from this month
By Yap Su-Yin
PEOPLE who feed monkeys cause more harm than good, and anyone caught doing so from this month will be fined $250, up from the previous $200.
To ensure that people get the message loud and clear, the National Parks Board (NParks) is conducting regular raids, apart from monitoring closed-circuit television cameras which were installed along Upper Thomson Road last year.
The 'strong stand' is necessary because feeding monkeys creates several problems, said NParks assistant director of central nature reserves Sharon Chan. They become bold and aggressive, snatching food from people, and even attacking them.
Often, people who live on the fringe of nature reserves bear the brunt of this behaviour. The monkeys also become reliant on humans, a habit which can be fatal.
Between 2001 and 2005, more than 100 wild monkeys were run over on the roads while waiting for humans who would feed them.
Feeding leads to a baby boom, too, with the population surging as they spend less time foraging for food in the forests and more time engaging in breeding activities.
In an effort to educate the public, NParks puts up signs and hands out pamphlets to explain the consequences of feeding and why it is an offence.
In fact, although the fine for feeding monkeys is now $250, the 2005 Parks and Trees Act allows for a maximum punishment of $50,000, or up to six months jail, or both.
One man caught feeding monkeys recently said he has learnt his lesson. Giving his name only as Mr Low, he said he was nabbed two weekends ago by NParks officers while handing out cake to monkeys along the road leading to the Lower Peirce Reservoir area.
Mr Low, 33, said: 'I saw the no-feeding signs, but didn't take them seriously. About half of the 10 vehicles parked along the roadside had people inside feeding monkeys through the windows.
'At least one guy was out in the open feeding monkeys. When they detected the NParks officers, they drove off. But after the officers left, about half an hour later, the feeding restarted.'
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), which loans traps and collects trapped monkeys as a free service to the public, told The Straits Times that it receives about 250 complaints a year on monkeys.
These range from monkeys harassing residents, taking food from their premises, or damaging their fruit trees, said AVA spokesman Goh Shih Yong.
The problem can be seen in estates close to wooded areas, such as Swiss Club Road, Jalan Emas Urai, Green Bank Park and Bright Hill Crescent.
Last year, 138 monkeys were culled. So far this year, about 67 have been culled.
'They cannot be released back into the wild because they would normally be attacked and not accepted by the troop of monkeys in the area,' said Mr Goh.
Currently, no one is authorised to keep a monkey, an offence that comes with a possible fine of up to $1,000 and the forfeiture of the animal, he added. The most commonly seen monkeys here are macaques of the long-tailed variety.
No monkey business
AVA suggests some measures to alleviate the problem.
Do not make food available to monkeys. Cover and secure refuse bins. Erect fences with barbed wires, for example, Y-shaped fences to prevent monkeys from swinging in.
Make the surroundings inhospitable to monkeys, for example, use a hose to spray water at them to scare them away.
Engage a pest control company to trap the monkeys.
Note: In cases of monkeys originating from nature reserves (NParks) or land belonging to other agencies, for example Mindef, residents bothered by those monkeys may seek help from the relevant agencies managing the land.
NParks' 24-hour hotline to report monkey feeders is 1800-471-7300
Please don't feed the monkeys more about the impact of feeding and list of media articles on this issue.
Who's the monkey's uncle? monkey feeding by supposedly intelligent simians on the budak blog
Related articles on Exotic Species and pets
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