With the floods of tourists that usually flock to Bali unable to holiday on the resort island, its hungry resident monkeys have taken to raiding villagers’ homes in search of food and entertainment.
Villagers in Sangeh say grey macaques have been coming to their homes from the nearby Sangeh Monkey Forest, spending their time hanging out on roofs and waiting for the right time to snatch a snack.
With concerns that the monkeys may turn wild or lead a full-on assault on the village, residents have been taking food, including fruit and peanuts, to the forest.
“We are afraid that the hungry monkeys will turn wild and vicious,” villager Saskara Gustu Alit said.
About 600 macaques live in the sanctuary that surrounds the famous Pura Bukit Sari temple.
Normally, the protected area is a popular spot for local residents shooting wedding photos, as well as international holidaymakers.
Prior to the pandemic, over 6,000 visitors typically came to the forest each month, but these numbers have dropped drastically to about 500 people, as Indonesia banned all foreign travellers from entering Bali in July.
The sanctuary has also been closed to local residents, meaning the monkeys have had no visitors at all.
Image: Getty Images
Operations manager Made Mohon said that the closure has also meant that the sanctuary is running low on money to buy food for the monkeys.
Donations from villagers have made a difference, but they are also donating less and less as they feel the economic sting, he said.
“This prolonged pandemic is beyond our expectations,” Made Mohon said. “Food for monkeys has become a problem.”
The monkeys’ daily diet of 200 kg of cassava, their staple food, and 10kg of bananas costs about 850,000 rupiah ($80) a day.
Though macaques are omnivores and can eat a range of jungle animals and plants, the monkeys living in the sanctuary have developed a preference for other things, thanks to their contact with humans.
Often the monkeys will wander into the village and sit on roofs, causing mischief by removing and dropping roof tiles or making off with religious offerings placed outside by villagers.
“A few days ago I attended a traditional ceremony at a temple near the Sangeh forest,” Gustu Alit said.
“When I parked my car and took out two plastic bags containing food and flowers as offerings, two monkeys suddenly appeared and grabbed it all and ran into the forest very fast.”
Since the monkeys usually have visitors to interact with – whether they’re jumping on shoulders, stealing sunglasses, or pulling at clothes – Gustu Alit believes boredom, not just hunger, is driving the monkeys.
“That’s why I have urged villagers to come to the forest to play with the monkeys and offer them food,” he said.
“I think they need to interact with humans as often as possible so that they do not go wild.”
Image: Getty Images
This article first appeared on Over60.