13 June 2009

Wild monkeys at breakfast in Admiralty Park

There was a rustle in the huge Simpoh air (Dillenia suffroticosa) bushes (more like trees) as I was heading back from the mangroves at Admiralty Park.
There were several little monkeys in there foraging for their breakfast!

The Simpoh air fruit splits open to reveal succulent red seeds.
These seeds are also eaten by birds, and the monkeys must come early to get their share before they are all gone.

This little monkey was reaching for another bunch of succulent seeds in the newly opened fruits.
As he was stuffing his face with a bunch already in his hand!
I sneak in closer. He examines the opened fruit.
To pick out the fleshy seeds.
Or simply jams the whole thing into his mouth.
Another little guy clambers down a tree to reach for an open fruit.
Then rushes up the tree, where he examines and eats his find.
He's really intent on his breakfast.
The monkeys probably swallow some, if not all, the seeds as they eat. Eventually, these seeds will emerge somewhere else, with a nice helping of monkey poo to help the seeds grow into new Simpoh air bushes. In this way, the monkeys help to regenerate the forest.

Another little monkey browses not only at the fruits.
But also examines dried leaves for any protein titbits.
High up in the taller trees, bigger monkeys were also foraging for their natural food. Only the littlest monkeys could reach the Simpoh air fruits that emerge from slender branches.

Our wild Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are not starving. There is plenty of natural food for them in our forests. Foraging requires experience and monkeys learn how to do this from their mothers. As they eat from the forest, they help to regenerate the forest too.

When humans feed monkeys, this natural order is upset. The monkeys become aggressive towards humans, ignore their natural food, fail to teach their young ones how to forage and everything falls apart. For what seems to be innocent pleasure of humans feeding wildlife, the monkeys and the forest pay with their lives.

These facts are clearly outlined in displays at the Park. Click on the image for a bigger view. Here's more about why we should NOT feed the monkeys.
In addition to a bunch of other damaging things we should avoid doing in our Parks.
It is sad, to me, that humans have to be reminded of basic natural courtesies and how to behave responsibly in the forest.
But I think all these reminders are having an effect. Because the monkeys at Admiralty Park were behaving naturally. They didn't disturb any of the people walking along the trails. In fact, the only response I saw in a monkey was aggression when a woman walked past with her dog on a leash (Oops, I think dogs are not allowed in the Park, because they disturb wildlife!).

And a monkey scolded me by chattering when I touched a fruit to take a photo of it!

How marvellous to see wild monkeys in harmony with the forest and human forest users. I hope things stay this way.

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