I’ve come across a lot of monkeys on my travels through Asia. Some are pretty cool. Some aren’t. Like this marauding gang across from the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Constantly terrorizing and vandalizing the homes nearby in search of food. Neighbours and merchants using firecrackers, bb guns, almost anything to keep them from ransacking their houses.
In the great fort of Chittorgarh in Rajasthan India I came across this nasty Langur Monkey. I distracted him long enough for a French man to escape this temple. But then he wouldn’t let me in. A real troublemaker.
Feeding them can lead to even a worse outcome like for this lady in Kolkata, India. She ended up being OK. Sometimes they just outright dive-bomb you! Like what happened to me in Ubud Bali.
It’s a real problem in Asia. Humans encroaching more and more on nature. As a result, these conflicts are on the rise.
In the Southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung there seems to be a better balance between people and the endemic Formosan Rock Macaque. But reports in recent years claim the resident population is becoming more aggressive.
So I started a hike at the Longcyuan Buddhist Temple in Soushan Park to find out for myself what the current conditions were like here. I’m no expert but I would at least get an idea if there were any safety concerns for the average hiker.
Right away I could see managing the situation between people and monkeys is a major concern. Signs are everywhere warning of the penalties for feeding them. Stiff fines if you’re caught.
This area is also nicknamed Monkey Mountain. It’s seems to be right out of a jungle movie set. Limestone, ancient coral reef and shellfish fossils, ferns, bamboo, banyan trees are just some of the features of this subtropical park. But no signs of monkeys yet. Trails are clearly marked with English signs so it’s easy to get around. Views of Kaohsiung City.
For years during Japanese rule and the national government takeover this area was closed to the public due to its’ strategic defence point. The first signs of Formosan Macaques. This friendly group I met at one of the tea stations were armed with a slingshot for thieving monkeys. The tea stations are throughout the park and seemed to be where the aggressive monkeys congregate. Exposure to human food very much apart of influencing their behaviour.
Still searching for monkeys I came across more of the amazing coral found throughout the area. A lone monkey here or there but I had heard of a kind of monkey village from my tea station friends that I just had to see. Amazing views of Taiwan Strait.
It seemed I was getting closer to my goal. Sure enough this is what I was looking for, The Monkey District! The Formosan Rock Macaques in their natural environment. This survival of this species was seriously threatened due to hunting for meat, medical purposes, pets, and research use. In the 1990’s through efforts enforced by the Wildlife Conservation Act of Taiwan the macaques made a comeback.
This seemed to be what was lacking in my travels throughout Asia. Seeing these creatures in their own habitat. Watching behaviours more typical of animals in the wild. There didn’t appear to be a widespread problem of conflict between these macaques and humans. With the odd incident at a tea station they seemed to have their own space here. Uncaring of my company. They weren’t the thieving bandits or ransacking marauders raiding homes and terrorizing neighbourhoods.
Can we really blame them though? They’re very much like humans. They adapt to survive. And we’ve taken away their habitat. This scene and the efforts in Taiwan to protect the macaques in their natural environment is a step in the right direction.
I really enjoyed my day here in Soushan National Park, and on Monkey Mountain. There’s nothing more spiritual than watching animals in the wild, indifferent to our presence. Just being.
For breezy-size.flywheelsites.com this is John Saboe from Monkey Mountain in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
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